U.S. Patent System’s Ranking Slide Will Remain Talking Point


US Chamber

The U.S. patent system slipped two places to 12th in the 2018 International IP Index, a study of intellectual property protections in 50 countries released by a non-governmental advocacy group representing American businesses. 

Last year, the patent system placed 10th in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 International IP Index, after falling from the top spot a year earlier. The ranking was an oft-cited talking point for lawmakers and witnesses in patent law-related Congressional hearings. 2018 promises to be no different. 

The swearing in of new U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) director Andrei Iancu coincided with the report’s release on Feb. 8. Speaking at his Senate confirmation hearing in November, Iancu addressed questions on concerns around patent validity challenges. 

He vowed to “evangelize the IP system” and strengthen U.S. intellectual property rights. “In the sense that, we return to a high level of predictability of IP system,” he said. 

All eyes are on Iancu as he lays out his plan to do that and the PTO’s priorities. 

U.S. case law has had a negative impact on what technologies can be patented and the ability to cancel issued patents by contesting them at the PTO pose a challenge, according to the Chamber’s report. 

“There is considerable uncertainty for innovators and the legal community, as well as an overly cautious and restrictive approach to determining eligibility for patentable subject matter in areas such as biotech, business method, and computer-implemented inventions,” the report said.