Posts Tagged ‘USPTO’

Promoting Open Collaboration on Neglected Tropical Diseases Research

Monday, October 31st, 2011

With the global population reaching an estimated 7 billion today, the fact that nearly a billion people suffer from malaria, tuberculosis and a host of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is a staggering fact. Despite the need for prevention and treatment, the development of technologies including drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for these diseases has been insufficient due to a lack of financial incentives for their production.

In response to this dilemma, the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), National Institutes of Health, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and BIO Ventures for Global Health joined with leading pharmaceutical companies and nonprofit research organizations (e.g., PATH) to create WIPO Re:Search, a public, searchable database of patent information that will allow research partnerships to benefit from the shared knowledge and technologies stored within the database. In an innovative, unprecedented take on promoting public-private partnerships, WIPO Re:Search membership is open to any organization that agrees with its set of guiding principles.

The regulations surrounding use of WIPO Re:Search go beyond sharing of research to include (among others) the condition that all intellectual property be subject to royalty-free licensure in Least Developed Countries (LDCs)-focused NTD research and development, as well as for the manufacture and sale of NTD products in LDCs.

The limited conditions under which intellectual property is royalty-free has sparked criticism from Doctors Without Borders, which says that limiting royalty-free licensed products to LCDs ignores the fact that many people suffering from NTDs do not live in countries that are categorized as LCDs. Although WIPO Re:Search demands that its members agree to “consider in good faith” the needs of developing countries, the rules of providing royalty-free licensed products developed through use of the database need not apply to non-LDC countries – thus “setting the bar for access too low,” according to a statement from DWB.

Even so, “WIPO Re:Search is a groundbreaking example of how a multi-stakeholder coalition can put IP to work for social benefit,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said at the database’s launch ceremony. “By joining WIPO Re:Search, companies and researchers commit to making selected intellectual property assets available under royalty-free licenses to qualified researchers anywhere in the world for research and development on neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. This commitment should accelerate the development of medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics for these diseases.”

On July 4, We Celebrate Our Nation’s Independence, 1836 Patent Act 175th Anniversary

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

This Fourth of July, as we commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence just as we’ve done every year since 1776, we also celebrate the 175th anniversary of the 1836 Patent Act.

The Act marked the creation of the first United States Patent Office, designed to streamline patent application and registration procedures. While this first office went up in flames in the Great Patent Fire of 1836, it eventually led to the creation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which handles all patent matters in the U.S. today.

As the Constitution gives Congress the power to enact patent laws, the USPTO carries out Congress’s directives.

The first patent law was enacted in 1790 and revised in 1793. The 1836 Patent Act made the Patent Office a part of the State Department and re-numbered patents starting with 1, marking all previous patents with the suffix “X”. In 1849, the Patent Office was transferred to the Department of the Interior, where it still resides. The depression of 1850 created an unfavorable view of patents; as such, patent laws weren’t revised again until the early 1950s. The most recent revision was the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999.

Because of the current backlog of patent applications, bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate to again reform patent legislation. However, differences in the bills could delay passage of this critical legislation.

The USPTO is proactive on this front. Working as its own advocate, the USPTO recently held a gathering at Stanford University to address how it can improve customer service and reduce the backlog of patent applications. Since a significant percentage of the USPTO’s work involves medicines and medical devices, such improvements could mean accelerated access to new or improved products.

In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley declared Research!America’s support of this patent reform legislation.

“Meaningful reform of our patent system is a long-time goal, the fulfillment of which will bear on our nation’s capacity for innovation in an increasingly competitive global economy and have a positive effect on the U.S. pipeline of new medical treatments,” Woolley wrote.