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Study Finds Lack of Evidence to Support Draconian Efforts to Weaken Patent Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Thursday, January 31, 2008) - A study by researchers at the University of Virginia, released today by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), found that the three key reports often cited as justification for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. patent system lack any empirical data to support the claims that alleged over-patenting and poor quality patents are hampering innovation and successful commercialization of inventions.

“BIO continues to support consensus-oriented approaches to patent reform that would truly improve the U.S. patent system,” stated BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood.  “However, this study demonstrates that draconian measures that would fundamentally weaken patents for the benefit of a handful of industries to the detriment of many others are simply not justified by an objective review of the facts.”

The study, entitled “Proposed Patent Reform Legislation: Limitations of Empirical Data Used to Inform the Public Policy Debate,” analyzed reports on patent reform produced by the Federal Trade Commission, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Research Council.  The new study found that, contrary to the assertions of the industry proponents of the pending patent reform legislation, the evidence contained in these reports actually demonstrates that the current patent system is working well to promote innovation.

The study also determined that the reports relied upon conjecture, anecdotes and individual publicized cases rather than upon empirical data supporting the underlying premise of bad quality patents.  For example, the study showed that concerns in the reports about the quality of patents issued are undermined by the consistently low rates of litigation and low rates of erroneously-granted patents.  More, the evidence presented in the reports indicates that, to the extent industry participants are experiencing alleged “patent thickets” or other issues associated with poor quality patents, they are finding market-based solutions to effectively address these problems.

The study also examined how several recent court cases have addressed some of the concerns and recommendations contained in the reports, further undermining the need for sweeping legislative changes to the U.S. patent system. 

The study authors conclude that there is an utter lack of evidence to justify overhauling the patent system in a way that could disrupt the incentives of industries, such as biotechnology, which rely on patents to encourage and protect innovation. 

“While certain reform measures could improve the U.S. patent system, it remains the best in the world at promoting and rewarding innovation,” stated Greenwood.  “This study reinforces our continuing request of Congress: when it comes to patent reform, tread carefully and first, do no harm.”

The study is available at


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About BIO


BIO represents more than 1,150 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology technologies. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.