2020 Inventing America Conference: Key Quotes From IP Experts

April 16, 2020

A diverse range of intellectual property experts gathered recently in Washington D.C. to discuss the U.S. patent system at the 2020 Inventing America Conference. The Conference, titled “The U.S. Patent System: Promoting U.S. Job Creation, Competitiveness and National Security,” featured speakers from the USPTO, State Department, Congress, academia, industry and more. Here are some key takeaways from the expert speakers:

Andrei Iancu, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office

“We must expand American innovation geographically and demographically… We are competing with one hand and three or four fingers tied behind our backs.”

Here, Iancu is speaking about a recent study from the USPTO highlighting how diversity in patent ownership is lagging behind other countries. He underscores the level to which this lack of diversity is putting the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage.

Susie Armstrong, Senior VP, Engineering, Qualcomm, Inc.

“It’s imperative for our national security that we continue to be able to patent and license breakthrough technologies here.”

If we don’t heed Armstrong’s advice, the U.S. will be at risk of falling behind foreign competitors like China that are increasing patent protections for their own innovators, while the U.S. weakens patent protections here.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), House Judiciary IP Subcommittee Chairman

“Innovation is the key to the future. Patents are a bedrock mechanism for incentivizing innovation in this country.”

Rep. Johnson’s quote reminds us of the over 230 years of American innovation and the role that patents have played in helping the United States become a global economic powerhouse.

Kira Alvarez, Legislative Consultant, American Bar Association’s Section of Intellectual Property Law

“If Google was a Chinese company, people would describe their efficient infringement of Sonos patents as trade secret theft.”

Here, Alvarez is referencing the recent news about Sonos accusing Google of stealing its wireless home speaker technology. In a classic example of efficient infringement, Google has apparently been stealing Sonos’s technology for years, knowing that it would likely be cheaper to fight off any infringement suit by Sonos than to simply license the company’s technology.

Adam Mossoff, Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

“For large companies with stockpiles of cash, it’s an easy and economic decision that it’s better for them to take someone’s patented technology and infringe it.”

Continuing on the topic of efficient infringement – more simply described as patent theft – Mossoff lays out why it’s such an attractive option for some large companies with deep pockets.

The conference can be viewed in its entirety on the Inventing America website here.

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