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Chief Judge Paul Michel: Patent Reform Progress is Likely, But We Must Stay Focused On the Big Picture

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Last week during IPWatchdog’s Patent Masters Symposium, former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel sat down with me to discuss the state of the U.S. patent system and best options/ predictions for moving forward. He began by lamenting that “the courts have failed and failed and failed” with flawed rulings such as Helsinn v. Teva, which Michel characterized as “completely illogical”, and Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. To boot, the Supreme Court has refused to take any patent eligibility cases, and the Federal Circuit has managed to make the harm and illogic of the SCOTUS rulings even worse, Michel said. In fact, they’ve “expanded on the bad rulings of the SCOTUS.” Part of the problem may lie in a misunderstanding of the true intent of the patent system, according to Michel. “The real point of the patent system is to incentivize innovation, not to encourage creative people. Creative people will create no matter what. Investment is extremely risky and costly—if the incentive to invest shrinks, and there is evidence that it has, we are in trouble.” Below, Michel offers more of his thoughts on the current patent landscape, including what to expect from pending legislation and why he is cautiously optimistic that change is coming soon.

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