- Education and Science
American Patent Law Desperately Needs Major Revisions.
American Patent Law Is Outdated And Does Not Serve The Domestic Industrial Economy Efficiently Any More. It Needs To Be Updated To Keep The Patent Process On
American patent law is broken. At the moment companies can copyright computer code or cartoon characters practically for immortality. Coka-Cola can copyright it's signature color red and Disney can extend Mickey Mouse's copyright ad infinitum with Congressional approval but when it comes to new patent medicines there is no room for extending patents to protect rights and drug companies vastly over charge customers for their most innovative new products to attempt to retrieve the very high costs of brining new drugs to market. Pharmaceutical companies are a relatively big part of the American Industrial landscape and important to the economy but are treated like the enemy of the state by congress.
Most people seeing the problem of people with rare diseases being charged$10,000-$200,000 a year for a new prescription drug as unethical and immoral as if companies should just go out and borrow capital and give it away when the government which can easily tax everyone and compensate them like they do defense contractors and companies that manufacture over priced public transportation buses and light rail systems. Instead ,drug companies are treated like villains who gauge the public and should make an effort to operate as public service companies or heroic altruists. When it comes to effective new drugs there are other risks drug companies have for charging as much as they do that that includes possible legal liability for adverse effects. There is a solution and it much simpler than the experts in the field realize. Patent protection is not long enough when it costs a billion dollars to develop new drugs that have limited populations that may require treatment with those drugs. The simple solution is of course to have congress revise patent laws to allow patents to last a lot longer. Short patents can benefit society by allowing recombinant versions of new inventions and that really is something that needs revision too where congress allows longer patents in exchange for patent owners meeting trade off criteria of an agreed to lower price and a set standard means of charging certain kinds of patent infringements with a set table of payments in to the patent owner or sharing revenues if it is a recombinant version of an original patent/ invention. It makes sense to have some of the primary industries in the USA , and abroad when they apply for patents here, to have patents that can last 50 years instead of just around 20.
Congress can set up a patent review commission that would negotiate longer patents on a case by case basis and save companies from having to deal with infringement lawsuits by setting rates for royalties in such cases in tables as part of the negotiations. No patent holder would have to apply to have their patent extended . It would be completely voluntary and of course the government would have the right to solicit deals. It is all about trade offs. Over and over again we see drugs go generic with virtually no economic benefit there after to the original patent holder. It may benefit society but does not necessarily benefit the economy as much as patents do because the generics erode the viability of exporting US products which helps give us the dreaded imbalances of trade so many congressmen and senators fuss about. Patent extension not just in medical pharmaceuticals but in virtually everything else would protect so called intellectual property with the same vigor the copyright owners have. Why patents are don't get the same respect copyrights do is difficult to understand.
It is important that patents get more respect and that comes from the US congress revising the law and allowing much longer extensions of time to own patents and provides a means after say the original patent period to allow automatic royalty sharing with patent infringers. The government might not be as concerned with patents on inventions that are not about medical necessity so unfortunately there could be a lot of politics involved in the patent extension process. To remove this problem patent owners would be selected or could apply but would have to apply with in x number of years of getting the patent to open a case and once opened could be re-opened anytime up until perhaps 5 years before expiration in an attempt to benefit consumers for the longest period of time possible and because patent holders can face competition from similar products the longer their successful products are on the market.
At the moment the US supreme court is deciding if human genes can be patented by companies that have tests to find genes that have medical health importance to individuals. The problem is once the gene is identified anyone in the biotechnology business can test for it. That's not fair to those attempting to file patents that serves their business in making such tests available at a profit. If there is an incentive and contest to find the genetic markers of importance and test for them it is more in societies interest to have the patent protection in place . A patent commission could simply allow for royalty sharing in uses of the gene in other uses that are not the same as patent holding companies. Extension of those patents is the better solution in the trade off for everyone involved than to cut the patents out completely or cut them short. If that sounds unfair just imagine if the human genome project people got a copyright on the genome instead of making it mostly all available to the public. It probably could have been . Extending patents will help the economy more than it will harm it. A government patent extension commission would serve better than just making patents longer because tradeoffs by the patent holders would be required and gives everyone involved in the negotiations freedom to enter in to a contract. Government does not automatically extend a patent unless the company proves in advance that the extension for the patent results in substantially lower prices. Each company and patent holder can calculate how an extension would benefit it. If an impasse is reached and no negotiated solution or deal is found then that is the way it goes and the patent expires sooner. If a company develops a drug that helps less than 5000 people a year and it cost it a billion dollars to test and deliver the drug to market well then the patent commission should be able to extend the patent to 100 years if necessarily so the company can make back it's loses without having to gauge. That new rate would be set. Maybe still expensive but not a corporate give away.