SOURCE: Licensing Executives Society

Licensing Executives Society

March 04, 2009 16:10 ET

Licensing Executives Society (USA & Canada) Calls on Obama Administration to Improve the Market for Innovation

IP Licensing Recommendations Delivered in Letter to President

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - March 4, 2009) - The United States must do more to help innovative ideas and products reach the marketplace, according to the Licensing Executives Society (USA and Canada), Inc.

In a letter sent to President Barack Obama, LES USA/Canada identified three intellectual property-related initiatives that deserve his attention:

1. Provide gap funding for critical technology development;

2. Preserve intellectual property (IP) policies that promote both
   innovation and competition; and

3. Support greater access to public and privately developed technology

"Innovation must reach the marketplace, and the path is precarious," according to LES USA/Canada President Francois Painchaud and LES USA/Canada Immediate Past President Thomas A. Picone, who co-authored the letter. "To move innovation from mind to marketplace requires complex systems of finance, law, and commerce. We must ensure that those systems promote, rather than hinder, innovation."

LES USA/Canada's recommendations include:

Gap Funding

Even in good economic times, products of innovation fail to reach the marketplace, often because of a gap in funding referred to in the IP licensing profession as the "Valley of Death." It is the period after initial funding runs out and before a new product can generate sales revenue.

"We encourage the extension of grants and assistance to improve the prospects for those making the hazardous transition from start-up to sustainable enterprise," the letter said. LES USA/Canada recommended that such gap-funding programs come with oversight from a transition board or qualified mentor to monitor investments.

Preserve IP Policies

LES USA/Canada points to the existing implementation of antitrust law and policy as "on track," but cautions that "we must avoid turning back the clock. . . .We must preserve the pro-licensing legal environment that has evolved over the last two decades."

LES also raised concerns over differing approaches to licensing, collaboration, and antitrust enforcement between the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

In addition, the letter addressed issue of diverting U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) user fees to other programs even while USPTO suffers extensive backlogs and a lack of funds.

"In 2004, many users of the patent system agreed to substantial fee increases in exchange for a permanent end to fee diversion," LES USA/Canada wrote. "This permanent provision has not yet been enacted. This is a rare instance where the users of an agency of the United States are not seeking a tax break or a handout. We recommend that those funds be retained by the USPTO and devoted to hiring and training additional qualified personnel."

Greater Access to Technology

LES USA/Canada recommends that "your Administration create an online community to publicize technology-specific IP. This will foster innovation and development in areas of vital need, such as 'green technologies.' Your Administration might require that recipients of federal funding participate in online communities where IP can be searched, and collaborations created. Those charged with moving IP out of the lab and into the market would be better equipped to do so."

The letter is posted on the LES USA/Canada website at www.lesusacanada.org. For more information, contact LES at 703-836-3106.

The Licensing Executives Society (USA & Canada), Inc. is a professional society comprised of more than 6,000 members engaged in the transfer, use, development, manufacture, and marketing of intellectual property. LES members include a wide range of professionals, including business executives, lawyers, licensing consultants, engineers, academicians, scientists and government officials. Learn more at www.usa-canada.les.org.

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