Tag: Patents

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Prof. Paul Israel, Director & General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University, and author of Edison: A Life of Invention, the definitive biography of America’s greatest inventor. Professor Israel describes Edison’s public and private life, as well as the impact of his world-changing inventions, such as the hot-filament light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion-picture camera. Called the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” Edison is still the American with the most individual patents — 1,093 in the U.S. and 1,200 in 34 foreign countries. They discuss what educators and students in the 21st century can learn from how Edison ran the country’s first industrial research laboratory in New Jersey, and the importance of the U.S. Patent Office in protecting inventors’ exclusive right to profit from their inventions. They also discuss what students should learn about the role inventions have played in the historic success of the United States and in the highly dynamic and competitive global economy. Professor Israel concludes with a reading from his biography.

Stories of the Week:  The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is celebrating its 75th anniversary of providing education for the children of American service members. Today, DoDEA operates 160 schools in eight districts across 11 countries, seven U.S. states and two U.S. territories for more than 67,000 students. (Read Pioneer’s related 2015 report.) In West Virginia, the Professional Charter School Board approved three applications for the state’s first ever charter public schools, which will provide another option for families who want and need a different learning environment.

Join Jim and Greg as they get a kick out of President Biden celebrating a very meager goal in getting kids back in the classroom.  They also fume as Biden sides with the WHO in wanting to “pause” the patents for the companies that developed the vaccines in order to boost production. And they react to Democrats debating whether to remove Iowa and New Hampshire as the first caucus and primary states because they’re too white.

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Article I Section VIII of the Constitution lays out the Powers of Congress, among them is: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;” * The temporary monopolies we grant to drug companies is a balancing […]

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Is US Innovation Getting Stuck in a Thicket of Patents?


If technology is advancing crazy fast, why aren’t those advances showing up in the broader productivity and economic growth numbers? Or as economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Daniel Rock, and Chad Syverson describe this mystery in their 2017 paper “Artificial Intelligence and the Modern Productivity Paradox: A Clash of Expectations and Statistics:” “Systems using artificial intelligence match or surpass human-level performance in more and more domains, leveraging rapid advances in other technologies, and driving soaring stock prices. Yet measured productivity growth has declined by half over the past decade, and real income has stagnated since the late 1990s for a majority of Americans.”

But those researchers remain optimistic. “The breakthroughs of AI technologies already demonstrated are not yet affecting much of the economy, but they portend bigger effects as they diffuse.” And one possible role for policymakers is to remove barriers to the spread of productivity-enhancing technologies when possible. Which brings us to “What Happened to US Business Dynamism?” by Ufuk Akcigit and Sina Ates. From that paper:

Market economies are characterized by the so-called “creative destruction” where unproductive incumbents are pushed out of the market by new entrants or other more productive incumbents or both. A byproduct of this up-or-out process is the creation of higher-paying jobs and reallocation of workers from less to more productive firms. The US economy has been losing this business dynamism since the 1980s and, even more strikingly, since the 2000s.

How Do You Make That Hose?


http://hbd-ther.knowledge4you.ca/wp-content/uploads/industrial-hose_product-image.pngYou likely use things made with the help of my maternal grandfather’s patent every day. From cars to jet airliners, from garden hoses to welding torches, reinforced hose is used. You need an inner layer that stands up to whatever flows through the hose, you need a reinforcing layer to keep the hose from bulging and bursting under pressure, and you need an outer coating to protect the hose from the external environment. So, how do you make that? Therein lies a tale.

F. Merrill Galloway was my maternal grandfather. Born in 1908, he went home at 95. He worked his entire adult life until the Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA) or mini-strokes ended his ability to work in his late 80s. He worked with both his hands and his mind, from his garden, to clocks, to rebuilding a violin from broken pieces in a cigar box. Then there was the work that paid the bills and in which he took enormous pride.

https://cdn.sportsmemorabilia.com/sports-product-image/1955-thermoid-rubber-fire-hose-vintage-print-ad-86-t849350-500.jpgHe worked in the rubber industry his entire adult life. He was hired after college by Quaker Rubber, which was eventually bought by H.K Porter, which is now part of HBD Industries. He was moved to Ohio to establish a continuous hose production plant. The manufacturing plants in which he worked made hoses and belts, of the sort found in a car’s engine compartment, for instance. These are now organized under one of the venerable brand names: Thermoid. Into the plant came raw materials, and out the other end went finished products on pallets.

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As an engineer with 10 patents, I understand the old saw that “Patents are the world’s most expensive vanity press.” So no matter how unique or important the invention, one must consider the costs of obtaining and defending a patent in court. Many times patents are generated by big companies to avoid litigation.* For smaller […]

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The United States is tenth in the world among nations’ protecting intellectual property. In 2016 US patent applications declined by one percent. Stephen Haber, the Hoover Institution’s Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, examines a patent landscape that includes Big Pharma, Big Tech, legal trolls, and Keanu Reeves–like actors. He also offers a few suggestions for how the Trump administration can shield and spur American innovation.

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The Wright brothers Wilbur and Orville are recognized as inventing the airplane in December 1903. However, American aviation “officially” started on July 4, 1908 with the Glenn Curtiss June Bug. It won the $2,500 Scientific American prize for flying one kilometer (3,280 ft), witnessed by 22 members of the Aero Club of America and people […]

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India, Intellectual Property, and Innovation


Article72Our conversation about Martin Shkreli and Indian pharmaceuticals reminded me that I’ve been having a mental debate with myself for a while. Where better to air my confusion than Ricochet?

As I argued, the case for importing generic medications from India is open-and-shut. I strongly suspect our failure to permit this is more owed to pharma-company rent-seeking and protectionism than to concern for public safety. American consumers are discerning enough to make their own decisions about whether they trust drugs from overseas. If we allowed them to come into the country, rigorous and trustworthy private mechanisms for inspecting overseas drug manufacturing facilities would quickly emerge, just as they have for awarding Michelin stars to restaurants around the world.

But I’m confused about the ideal regulatory regime for medication under patent, and indeed, for intellectual property generally. It’s a challenging problem if you think markets allocate scarce resources more efficiently than central planners do. The legitimate fight between the US and Indian pharma — “legitimate,” in the sense of, “I’m not sure who’s right” — is a case in point.

Supreme Court Should Avoid Overhaul of Patent Protections


In the newest installment of my column for the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas, I look at Alice Corporation vs. CLS Bank International, a case that went before the Supreme Court for oral argument yesterday.

The case turns on the question of whether a computing method used in electronic funds transfers is patentable, a query ripe for a clear answer, given that a 10-judge panel on the Federal Circuit produced seven different opinions on the matter. Critics such as Professor Robin Feldman and the New York Times editorial board have argued that the practice is too abstract to deserve intellectual property protection. I have a different take, as I note in the piece: