Key Patent Developments from the Week


February 8, 2013
Patent System Innovation

Kappos going to Cravath: After three years running the United States Patent and Trademark Office, David Kappos is heading to Cravath, Swaine & Moore, one of the top IP firms in the world and whose roots in patent law date to representation of Thomas Edison in litigation over the light bulb and Samuel Morse’s defense of his telegraph, as The New York Times reports. Kappos is widely credited with having improved the quality, efficiency and fairness of USPTO procedures and helping to usher through congressional passage of the America Invents Act. Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, said the firm’s clients “have gained a true champion of intellectual property rights who understands their critical role in creating incentives to innovate and in protecting our inventions.”

Those who ignore patent history...: “The good news is that the patent sky is not falling,” says Jeffrey I. D. Lewis, president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, who does a great job putting historical context around the “thicket” of smartphone patent litigation. Lewis cites the developmental histories of the airplane, radio, and MPEG/DVDs – as well as the sewing machine – to demonstrate why the legal and regulatory communities shouldn’t overreact to smartphone suits. “With time, thickets are cleared either by patent-based cooperation (licensing) or competition (lawsuits),” he writes in WIPO Magazine. “Either way innovation continues. Smartphones will still be marketed (until the next new thing appears) and progress will continue unimpeded.”

The economic power of patents: If you want your region to thrive, support research and development, and a strong patent system. The inventions embodied in patents are “a major driver of long-term regional economic performance, especially if the patents are of higher quality,” according to a new analysis from the Brookings Institution.

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