Lessons to Learn From the Fall of Theranos

This article points out 6 lessons entrepreneurs can learn from the fall of Theranos:

  1. Entrepreneurs have to be honest to their advisers to actually benefit from their advice.
  2. Be transparent in what your product can do and in what it can’t, especially to business partners.
  3. Raising capital does not solve all of a company’s challenges.
  4. Take proactively full responsibility of a failure.
  5. Follow the lean-startup method (build, measure, learn) and admit to (and learn from) early failures to prevent later failures with devastating consequences.
  6. Be careful when promoting your product in the public.

I think the article is correct in pointing out that there are several lessons both entrepreneurs and investors may learn from the Theranos debacle. But the fall of Theranos itself and the willingness of financiers to invest in it without seeing a full working prototype for years also indicates to me that at a certain point, it might become extremely difficult for all the involved parties to accept a complete failure of the project.

How to Use Intellectual Property to Increase a Start-ups Value

This article identifies 6 “secrets” for increasing the value of a start-up with intellectual property. I found it interesting that the article is that straightforward in pointing out that IP might be  a business’ most valuable asset (in particular in the context of technology start-ups) and that the legal regime governing it might be used very effectively to increase a start-up’s value.

The Roots of Patent Trolls

This article attempts to identify the roots of patent trolls. It discusses a Harvard study suggesting that the country’s problems with low-quality patents and rampant patent litigation is driven by inadequate scrutiny of patents by patent examiners. The study shows that patents issued by patent examiners who demand the fewest changes from applicants account for a disappropriately high share of patents used by patent trolls.

The article proposes better educated and equipped patent examiners to solve the problem. However, some legal scholars (as the article points out) question whether this would be worth the additional capital expenditures, since most patents eventually remain unused. These scholars therefore favor to wait until an entity with an actual interest in using the invention challenges the patent in court.


Patenting Antibodies: Obviousness Considerations

This article analyzed a few cases in which antibody-related claims were challenged for obviousness. Under 35 U.S.C. § 103, a claim is not patentable if the “differences between the claimed invention and prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious” to a person of ordinary skill in the art, before the effective filing date of the claimed invention. This article analyzes obviousness issues related to antibody patents at the Patent Trials and Appeal Board (PTAB) and in federal courts.It shows that method of treatment attracts the most patent claims. I thought this was an interesting read (thought half of it went over my head) following our debate in class over patenting health care equipment.

D.C. targets Big Tech CEOs

The syllabus this week directed us to consider the differences between how the Supreme Court and Congress are treating copyright and patent law. This article touches on the intersection of Congress and “Big Tech,” as it relates to privacy concerns. While this article doesn’t speak directly to patent or copyright regulation, I thought this article and the rising trend of “cracking down” on tech implicates a broader regulatory environment that is coming as the “techlash” continues.

Patent Waiver for Poorer Countries

This article discusses the WTO agreement for poorer countries to copy patented drugs. The waiver applies to 48 countries and include many African and Asian countries.


Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights Online

Google v. Equustek was the case I discussed last class where Equustek accussed it’s distributor of stealing its product to sell as a rival product. The Supreme Court of Canada provided an injunction to delist the infringer from Google worldwide.This ruling creates freedom of speech concerns as well as issues over whether countries can enforce their law on the Internet in other countries. With the global reach of the Internet, I believe this is a problem international law needs to solve in order to protect intellectual property rights. If infringers are protected by other countries such as in this case, companies will be unable to protect their rights. However, allowing other countries to decide what is acceptable fir the world’s Internet can force perfectly legal content in one country to be banned worldwide by other countries. I believe an international solution is required to deal with the problem.


Science, Patents, Tech – Comparison & Thoughts

Link: http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2015/09/hlaw1-1509.html

This article nicely describes the cases for today’s reading. I saw interesting comparisons to the content of our tech discussions we have been having over the past weeks. The cases for this week concerned the patentability of scientific endeavors. Growth in this area is no doubt aided by growth in technology. And like technology, the ability for others to use the information, process (etc.) discovered is good for vast application and potential improvement. In these cases, the Courts found that if the aspect at issue (a gene sequence, process, etc.) was not created but merely discoverable (regardless of how remarkable it was) it was not patentable. This bodes well for those trying to use the new found information to expand upon the newly discovered information. Does it strike the proper balance in incentivizing people to pursue finding information so novel in the scientific field? Could they be compensated for their findings by selling research, or instructions for finding? Should they create a separate venture implementing their research from which to profit? Should the goal of this research not be profit and the funding for the research come from grants, or would it be okay to compensate the workers after discovery – compensate with profit?

Beyond this, there does seem to be some distinction from the tech field – in the science area you are dealing with naturally occurring phenomenons. This would bode less well for receiving a patent. (I am also unsure of how often those developing in the tech area apply for patents – I imagine infrequently). Perhaps the process involved in science and the purpose of patent protection in the Constitution has an overarching commonality – perhaps a broader benefit to society – which the Founders wished to protect. Accordingly, it is more difficult to get patents. And when they are received, they receive stronger protection?