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2016 Ⓒ Boston Patent Law Association
President's Message
October 2016 -
Erik Belt
McCarter & English LLP
The Boston Patent Law Association recently sponsored the annual
Invented Here!
to honor local innovators and the products of their ingenuity. I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at this event. The featured inventions included, for example,
a soft exosuit to aid mobility
(shades of
Steve Austin—the Six Million Dollar Man)
a method for shrinking swollen tonsils using light
, which eliminates the need for both scalpels and milk shakes. You can read more about the event, the honorees, and their truly gee-whiz inventions in this newsletter. Given the wizardly inventions developed here, the average person would come away from this event thinking that the Boston area, and New England generally, must have something special in the water—some dose of inspiration that, like fluoride, is added to the municipal water supply. Certainly, statistics bear this out:
Massachusetts has one of the highest densities of patents per person in the country (see page 5)
My take-away is a bit different, however. The real engine driving innovation here is not the water and not the premier research institutions and not the cutting-edge companies—although our universities, teaching hospitals, and companies are truly innovative--but rather the patent system. And, of course, the great patent lawyers we have in our association. All of the inventors at the
Invented Here!
program discussed the importance of patents to protect their inventions. Their patents form the basis for companies that these inventors are starting. Their patents help attract venture capital to start and grow those companies. Without patents and the attorneys behind them, this innovation would surely decline. Don’t believe me? That was exactly the scenario in the 1970s, which was a decade of economic stagnation, high unemployment, and lime green polyester leisure suits. In particular, America lost its competitive edge, and indeed whole industries, to Europe and Asia. One of the most significant causes in this decline was a hostility to patents. Academia criticized patents. The courts never met a patent they liked: enforcing patent rights was exceedingly difficult, uncertain, and expensive. And the federal government’s overbroad enforcement of antitrust laws caused many companies to divest their patent portfolios. The end result of this attack upon patents was that
patent filings declined steadily in the 1970s
, and, with it, R&D spending, new company formation, and product innovation. The trend reversed only with
the establishment of the Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit
and its pro-patent philosophy in 1982. From that point, patent filings increased, R&D spending increased, venture capital increased, new industries arose . . . the economic and societal benefits went on and on. And we have you to thank for this blooming of innovation and progress. My year as the BPLA’s president has allowed me to meet and learn from more and more of you. The work you are doing in prosecuting and litigating patents and other intellectual property rights benefits not just your individual clients but society generally. Please remember to continue advocating for strong intellectual property rights. My term as president ends with the Annual Meeting on December 7 at the InterContinental Hotel. Of course, I still have some work to do before then, and you can expect some more great programs and learning opportunities in the next two months. But so far, I feel that this has been a very rewarding year. I hope that you feel the same. Remember, to keep the rewards coming, you must invent it here.
Volume 47, Issue 4
Community Calendar
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Table of Contents
President's Message by Erik Belt
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BPLA Submitted
Brief in Design Case of the Century
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< Back
Message from the Editor-in-Chief
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The Defend Trade Secrets Act: Examining the DTSA’s Language, Use, and Future
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RESTORING THE PATENT SYSTEM: Countering Supreme Court Attacks on What Can Be Patented
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IPR Motions to Amend: Rays of Hope for Patent Owners Despite Gloomy Statistics
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Nominations for the BPLA Officers and Board of Governors for 2016-2017
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In re Aqua Products
: Claim Amendments During
Inter Partes
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Proposed Membership By-Law Change
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The 2016
Invented Here!
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2015 BPLA Annual Meeting Minutes
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Ex Parte
Reexamination as a Valuable Option for Challenging Patent Claims
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PTAB Bar Asssociation
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McRO v. Bandai
: Latest Federal Circuit § 101 Decision Breathes New Life into Software Patents
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Members on the Move
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