“The patent office holds sway over huge swaths of the U.S. economy,” said Priti Krishtel, an attorney and co-founder of the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge, a nonprofit dedicated to patent system reform. “It has the power to shape markets, and just about every industry you can think of, from agriculture to technology, is impacted by its shortcomings.”
It has been argued for decades that patents are essential for American innovation. However, many patents only modify what is already existing and rarely contribute a completely new discovery, extending product monopolies for decades and adding billions to soaring health care costs. There is a severe need for reform of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. While it is concerning that the agency has spent the past year without a permanent director, there is an opportunity to modernize and fortify the patent system in the following ways. There must be an enforcement of existing standards, improvement in the process for challenging bad patents, elimination of potential conflicts of interest, collaboration with other agencies and public participation. The patent system affects everyone, therefore, it is only fair to allow people to gain a voice in what is right.
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