The current class of U.S. legislators is keenly aware of the role intellectual property plays in supporting global competitiveness, as evidenced by the passage of the first large-scale patent system reforms in five decades with the America Invents Act. However, reports have emerged to suggest that Congressional leaders may be willing to limit the functionality of current intellectual property frameworks in the interest of economic security.
According to Bloomberg, Congress has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to consider whether secrecy provisions traditionally used to shelter patents with potential national security implications should be extended to inventions that could impact economic security as well. By keeping patents under wraps, American corporations would hypothetically be further protected against foreign rivals misappropriating their research and development concepts. However, inventors would not be able to reap the rewards of registering for international patents.
"It's ridiculous, absurd," former USPTO commissioner for patents Bob Stoll told Bloomberg. "We have an economically valuable patent we don't want our companies to secure in China, in Europe, in Australia or anywhere else in the world? It flies in the face of what our country should be trying."
The pharmaceutical industry will likely be following these developments with great intent. According to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, a number of prominent American biomedical firms have been intrigued by the financial advantages of establishing research and development facilities in China and India but are still waiting for a shaky international IP climate to settle down.