Last Thursday I attended the release reception for the 2019 edition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International IP Index, which is produced by the Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC). The Pugatch Concilium does the research and writes the report, under the direction of my friend, Meir Pugatch. It was great to see Meir again after several years.
The Index is an attempt to rank 50 countries based on their IP systems, under the assumption that stronger IP protections are positive for encouraging innovation and investment in a country. Many studies have demonstrated that higher levels of IP protection correspond with higher levels of foreign direct investment and the resultant economic growth, and the Index also contains some of that data.
The Index also contains a section talking about general international IP trends, which in general are not good. While some developing countries are seizing the advantage of stronger IP protection (India, Brazil, Argentina), many countries are undermining IP protection (Chile, Colombia, Peru, Russia).
In the US, which has been slipping in the rankings because of some unfortunate Supreme Court decisions and the PTAB process at the Patent Office that has been cynically abused to invalidate patents, things have turned back up. The new USMCA trade agreement (as yet not adopted or implemented) increases IP protection, but the major fact that lifted the US from 12th place to 2nd place in the patents ranking is the change at the top of the U.S. Patent Office. New Director of the Patent Office Andrei Iancu has implemented significant, pro-patent procedures throughout the Office but especially in the PTAB process, which has restored the process to something approaching its original intent, instead of the abusive way it operated under the previous USPTO regime.
The problem with such improvements, of course, is that they are easily undone by a future administration, which means we still need legislation like the Stronger Patents Act to use the force of law to either eliminate the PTAB process, or lock-in the higher standards imposed by Director Iancu. Such legislation should reverse some of the recent Supreme Court patent decisions as well.