Sen. Udall introduces bill to improve DOE tech transfer

Commercialization and Licensing

Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, recently introduced a bill meant to improve the U.S. Department of Energy's technology transfer process, according to Albuquerque Business First.

The bill, called the Accelerating Technology Transfer to Advance Innovation for the Nation (ATTAIN) Act, would make several changes in three key areas, the senator said. It would authorize new tools for the department's technology transfer office for more efficient transfers and better analytics, create a new Tech Transfer Corps modeled off a similar department at the National Science Foundation and adapt a public-private partnership model the Small Business Administration uses for economic development and apply it to technology transfer. This last initiative would provide capital to funds investing in companies seeking financing in areas underserved by venture capitalists. 

"The finest scientists in the world are doing cutting-edge research here in New Mexico's national labs. If we can harness that amazing research by connecting innovators and entrepreneurs, New Mexico could lead the nation in high-tech business and innovation," Udall said. "That's what the ATTAIN Act is all about – improving the DOE's technology transfer process so we can get innovation from the lab bench to the marketplace and create well-paying, high-tech jobs here in New Mexico."

Udall emphasized his bill would require no additional funding from taxpayers, according to The Albuquerque Journal.

Penn State to auction intellectual property

Commercialization and Licensing Intellectual Property Management

Pennsylvania State University will become the first university in America to auction off its intellectual property directly, according to Penn Live. The university announced early in March that it will auction off exclusive licenses to intellectual property of various kinds to companies interested in acquiring them. The first auction will run from March 31 to April 11, and companies will have their choice of several patents from Penn State's College of Engineering.

These patents include one for a vigilance monitoring system that can track the alertness of drivers, a patent for polycrystalline​ complex-shaped mesoscale components and a new method of treating water for perchlorate contaminants, according to Penn Live. Should the auction be successful, the university will consider auctioning intellectual property from some of its other departments. Don Mothersbaugh, senior technical specialist at Penn State's Office of Technology Management, has been pushing for this project for the past year and a half.

"A lot of times we patent something, and then 10 years later, the real world catches up to the technology itself," Mothersbaugh told Penn Live. "Other times we miss the boat, or it's just we haven't found the right partner. And so [we] said we have all these patents sitting on the shelf, rather than let them sit there and rot, let's just put them out there."

Pfizer to appeal patent reissue denial

Intellectual Property Management

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. announced it will appeal a ruling that invalidated a patent extension related to its osteoarthritis drug Celebrex. This ruling could influence Pfizer's current lawsuit against generic drug companies that plan to create a generic version of the medicine to begin selling at the end of May, when Pfizer's original patent expires.

The U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia invalidated a patent reiusse for celecoxib, the active ingredient in Celebrex. This decision took place just ahead of a trial scheduled to begin March 19 for Pfizer's infringement case against several generic drug companies.

"Pfizer disagrees with the ruling and will pursue all available remedies, including an immediate appeal of the court's decision," the company said in a statement.

The expiration of Pfizer's patent for celecoxib will expose the company to possible losses as cheaper generic versions become available. In the fourth quarter of 2013 alone, Celebrex generated $800 million in sales, according to IndustryWeek. Many generic drug companies intend to release such a version, including U.S. companies Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Watson Laboratories, Canadian firm Apotex, India's Lupin and Israeli company Teva, which is the world's largest manufacturer of generic drugs.

Imperial Tobacco Group unit suing e-cigarette companies

Intellectual Property Management

An Imperial Tobacco Group Plc unit is suing a Lorillard Inc. subsidiary, NJOY Inc., Vapor Corp. and eight other manufacturers of electronic cigarettes in the U.S., claiming they infringed the group's intellectual property. Fontem Ventures BV, the unit of Imperial Tobacco Group in question, filed nine patent lawsuits in federal court in California recently, asking the court to rule its patents were valid and for defendants to pay damages, according to Bloomberg.

Analysis by Bloomberg Industries suggests sales of e-cigarettes may reach $5 billion in the U.S. by 2015. Imperial Tobacco, which purchased Dragonite International Ltd's e-cigarette division for $75 million in September 2013, has only had its own e-cigarette called Puritane on the market for a few weeks, according to The Financial Times.

"This is why [Imperial] are throwing the dice a bit, to fast-track themselves," Eddy Hargreaves, analyst at banking and financial services firm Canaccord Genuity, told the Times.

However, a spokesperson for Fontem Ventures said, "The reason for filing this lawsuit is to protect our intellectual property and seek fair compensation for the infringements of our patents."

The companies Imperial is suing all declined to comment when asked by the Times to do so.

Russian Intellectual Property Rights Court experiences huge case volume

Intellectual Property Management

Russia founded an Intellectual Property Rights Court in July 2013, and since that time 2,000 cases have been filed. Of those, 1,000 cases have been brought to a conclusion, according to The Moscow Times.

"Compared to analogous courts in Europe, we have a very high case load … and an increase in work load leads to the risk of a decline in the quality of our adjudication," court chairman Lyudmila Novoselova said at a press conference. "We need to either increase the number of judges or somehow change the kinds of cases that we wind up hearing."

Many of the court's cases are related to trademark infringement, with those comprising 48 percent of appeals. Only 5 percent of the cases the court hears are related to patent violations, and more than half of all cases are filed by foreign companies, according to Konstantin Lopushansky of law firm Kuchenev, Lopushansky and Partners.

Russia was rated 13 out of 25 countries for its intellectual property protections in a report the American Chamber of Commerce released in January. The report acknowledged the benefit in creating the Intellectual Property Rights Court, but said Russia still struggles with "poor application and enforcement of civil remedies and criminal penalties" as they relate to intellectual property.