08.03.15

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The Latest on Patent ‘Reform’ in the US: GOP Media Deception, Healthwashing Patents, and SIIA Lobbying

Posted in Patents at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s all about might and power (rich people can buy law), not objective assessment of public interests

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Summary: Techrights looks at the more prominent actors driving patent policy in the US, with budget to absorb and agenda to lobby for

THE efforts to make a ‘reform’ happen in the US patent system have not been receiving much media coverage, not in the past week anyway. As we have pointed out before, such efforts mostly or only target patent trolls anyway, so they are incomplete. “Give existing reforms a chance to kill patent trolls,” said this article from last week (the headline speaks only about patent trolls). “Over 8 million patents later,” the author said, “we’ve moved from fertilizer to a revolution in genetics and digital technologies. Thousands of patents have issued on computer software and methods of doing business.” Well, so patent scope is certainly a problem, why focus just on trolls?

“Patent Reform Is Not a Left Wing Thing,” said the Independent blog a week ago while GOP-leaning media is still fighting against patent reform. Here is a notable right-wing site attacking the Innovation Act by stating: “Congressman Goodlatte’s Innovation Act (H.R. 9) is too broadly written and will penalize numerous inventors and companies who develop and commercialize patented innovation. Further, it is based on flawed and unreliable data about “patent trolls.” Rather than rushing to pass this legislation, we should slow down and ask more questions. Only by asking questions will we understand the potential downfalls, unintended consequences, and effects on all stakeholders of the innovation economy.”

The corporate media took a stance similar to that of the GOP. “We Must Not Weaken the Patent Laws that Lead to Cures” was the headline in NewsWeek and Wall Street media uses the ‘health’ card too (painting patents as “healthy” or “life-saving”). To quote: “In 2012, CardioNet, a BioTelemetry subsidiary, filed suit against MedTel24, Inc. and other Companies in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for patent infringement. CardioNet sought an injunction against each defendant, as well as monetary damages. The defendants asserted counterclaims alleging the patents in the suit were invalid and not infringed.”

Andrew Chung, over at Reuters, wrote about UnitedHealth getting sued on antitrust claims. It’s about patents and more specifically misuse of patents to actually harm lives and damage health. To quote Chung: “Nearly four months after a California healthcare software company won a patent infringement verdict against UnitedHealth Group, it filed a new lawsuit alleging the insurance giant obtained its patents fraudulently and violated federal antitrust laws” (not a unique situation).

Over at lobbyists’ media and sites that repost articles (not really news sites), the SIIA (lobby which we wrote about before [1, 2, 3, 4]) pushes to crack down on trolls. The writer describes himself as “vice president for public policy at the Software & Information Industry Association, the principal association for the software and digital content industries, and a leading authority on U.S. tech policy.”

Looking at the SIIA’s Web site and recalling what we wrote about it over the years, it can do both good and evil because some of the time it lobbies for interests of its proprietary software component (members).

In summary, the debate over ‘reform’ continues in the media, but it is dominated not by scientists but politicians and other lawyers, including lobbyists. Conveniently they use the “health” metaphors to give the illusion that lives are at stake. It’s that infamous “do X or many people ARE GOING TO DIE” trickery.

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