What Patent Reforms Will Trump Promote?

Patent rights need to be kept in a delicate balance to keep the economy strong. If patent rights are too weak, America’s inventors may decide it’s not worth investing in their innovations. On the other hand, if patent rights are too strong, less small businesses will launch. And successful companies will be forced to pay if they accidentally infringed on a similar products’ design or utility patent.

Government policies need to lead America to balance in this important arena. A new report published by an intellectual property team at Shearman & Sterling, examines the patent positions of key people in the Trump administration, as well as at conservative think tanks that will likely influence President Trump. Here are some top insights from the report:

  •      Vice President Mike Pence spent years on a House
    Sub-Committee for Intellectual Property, and his positions suggest he would be likely to oppose many aspects of patent reform proposed during the Obama administration.
  •      Trump’s son Donald Jr. worked with a company that pursued a patent enforcement campaign, and the President’s uncle was an inventor and MIT professor with 23 patents to his name.
  •      Key Trump advisors Stephen Bannon and Ken Blackwell have been outspoken opponents of patent reform. His pick to lead the Commerce Department, Wilbur Ross, has written about reducing “intellectual property theft” by China. Look for more enforcement of International anti-counterfeiting measures.

Next, let’s examine other factors in Trumps leadership philosophy related to Intellectual Property.  During his campaign, Donald Trump frequently emphasized he intended to boost American job creation. He is willing to impose trade sanctions and steep tariffs on countries such as Mexico and China to achieve this goal, so innovators would be wise to plan for American production of their inventions.

Secondly, Trumps’ immigration policies will affect the price point if it is no longer easy to mass produce products in foreign markets. Some are saying America will undergo a innovation Renaissance similar to what has happened in Europe in the past several decades where products cost more, but quality is emphasized in design and production. Perhaps companies will figure out other ways to save on cost, such as using more affordable social media or person-to-person marketing instead of more expensive; but the value of a skilled patent lawyer.


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