After releasing the 2007 annual report, the PTO remarked in the report that the Office achieved "record breaking year-end numbers that reveal historic improvement in the quality of patent and trademark reviews and subsequently the quality of issued patents and registered trademarks" (see earlier 271 Blog post here).
While the PTO's claims were subject to much debate, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), perhaps playing a bit of "I'll-see-your-ten-and-raise-you-twenty", decided to submit the annual report to Congress for consideration in the ongoing debate over the Patent Reform Act of 2007. According to a statement issued by BIO to Congress:
As the Senate continues to debate legislation aimed at improving the U.S. patent system, it is clear that the current system continues to promote American ingenuity and innovation - as evidenced by the high number of new patent applications and issuances in 2007. And, despite the record number of new applications, the PTO is reporting marked improvement in the quality of patents issued, demonstrating a more rigorous process of patent examination.Read "BIO Urges Senate To Consider PTO Reform on Improved Patent Quality" (link)
We urge the Senate to consider these trends as it debates patent reform legislation. While there are ways to even further improve patent quality, such as through meaningful inequitable conduct reform and more objectivity and transparency in the patent examination process, these trends reported by the PTO undermine the calls for draconian "reforms" to the patent system. To the contrary, it is clear that the fundamentals of our current system are sound, and improving over time. These fundamentals should not be undermined in the guise of 'reform'. Proposals that encourage infringement and weaken the certainty and predictability of patents must be rejected. Such proposals would discourage investment in innovative industries such as biotech, in which it often takes more than a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring a product to market.
The Senate should reject such proposals and tread carefully and deliberately when considering patent reform. We pledge our support to continue to work with the full Congress to ensure the U.S. patent system continues to provide the framework required to maintain America's global leadership in innovation.
See also FDA News (subscription) : "BIO: PTO Report Shows Need for More Limited Patent Reform" (link)