The Effect of Obama’s Call for Innovation on Intellectual Property
Well, he didn’t mention us exactly but in his January 25th State of the Union speech, President Obama did speak heavily about innovation and specifically discussed patent rights. The President encouraged research and investment in innovation explaining the need to stay competitive with growing nations such as China and India. He reminded that “America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs.” Obama praised past American innovation like “Google and Facebook” and advocated spending on future innovations in biomedical research and clean energy technology.
If Obama’s call for innovation does spur a growth in technology, what effect will this have on the world of intellectual property rights?
Some, like The Innovation Alliance, hope an increased interest in innovation will promote reform and help sort out the backlog at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Intellectual property rights supporters hope that increased innovation will also mean increased protection. Vice President Joe Biden promoted this idea at a meeting with motion picture and pharmaceutical executives, two groups likely hoping for increased enforcement against infringers. Strong protection for intellectual property rights provides incentives for large companies to invest in new technologies without fear that their ideas will be stolen and profited from by infringers.
There are others, however, who think just the opposite. Those who subscribe to the “public domain” policy of intellectual property rights believe that by default there should be no copyright protection and accordingly no authorization needed to duplicate another’s work or create a derivative of that work. Advocates of this policy believe that free dissemination of information is the key to promoting inventions and innovation. Only time will tell the effect Obama’s call for innovation will have on the field of intellectual property rights – a boost in the time and money invested on innovation or a pull back in the field leading to less protection and decreased enforcement?