A Fight’s A-Brewin’ [9:03 am]
Biotech and high technology, two key Massachusetts industries, are often seen as allies — innovation-driven businesses that depend on a highly educated workforce. But this week they’re on opposite sides of a fight playing out in Washington: How to overhaul the nation’s patent system.
[...] “There are very few issues I think where we disagree,” said Joyce Plotkin , president of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council , a local high-tech lobbying group. “The interesting thing about the problems on this, for some reason, is there doesn’t seem to be progress.”
[...] “Both biotech and high tech have come on the scene relatively recently, and patent law is in the process of adjusting,’ said Emery Simon , a lawyer for the Business Software Alliance , a high-tech trade group in Washington.
“Right now the patent law works pretty well for one set of inventors,” he said, referring to biotechnology and drug firms. “It works less well for our industry.”
The discord highlights the increasing complexity and importance of patent law. Created to ensure basic protections for inventors, the law has become both an insurance policy for innovative businesses and a weapon in ferocious corporate legal wars. In some industries, such as medical devices, nearly every major company is tied up in a web of patent-infringement suits with its competitors, all designed to block or delay competing products. In high tech, large firms complain of so-called patent trolls, small companies with a portfolio of unused patents that make infringement claims against successful products, winning millions of dollars in settlements.