• Marketing Innovations in Patent Reform


Congratulations to Associate Professor of Business Law and Ethics, Susan Atherton and co-author Associate Professor of Marketing David Wheeler on the acceptance of their article "Marketing Innovations and the Effect of Patent Reform on Plant Patents," on its acceptance in the Journal of Business and Behavioral Sciences.

Their paper focuses on amateur scientists and home inventors who use patented gene sequences to create new plant species. The proposed Patent Reform Act of 2007 may make it more difficult to patent and then market such innovations, particularly for the small business or independent inventor. 

As corporate outsourcing of innovation to entrepreneurs has increased due to the recession and need for predictable quarterly number, so has the number of patents and the complexity of the patent process. Consequently, the backlog of pending patents has increased, resulting in concerns over patent quality. For the small business or home inventor, the patent application process is confusing, generally requiring legal assistance in applying for and defending the new patent.   Evidence demonstrates that the patent process is in need of reform, but the proposed Act offers little protection for the home inventor or small innovator applying for scientific patents. The Act could further eliminate protections and undermine innovation, by making it more difficult for entrepreneurs to defend challenges to their patents and by changing the rules for obtaining patents.  The specific provisions of the Act that impact innovation are proposals to limit damages for infringement, and introduction of the first inventor-to-file principle, which would ultimately favor corporate interests and discourage investment in small firms and entrepreneurs. Patents for new scientific innovations developed by entrepreneurs would become increasingly difficult to obtain and market under the proposed patent reform laws. 

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