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Blog Category: Michelle K. Lee

Intellectual Property Key to Protecting Pharma and Biotech Innovation

Intellectual Property Key to Protecting Pharma and Biotech Innovation

Did you know the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office plays an important role in getting biotechnology and pharmaceutical products to market? Biotech and pharma are major areas of patenting for the USPTO. In fact, since 2009, the USPTO granted more than 31,000 patents in the “Molecular Biology and Microbiology” classification, and about 30,000 in the “Drug, Bio-Affecting and Body Treating Compositions” classification. There has also been a significant increase in recent years in patents granted for medical devices. In 2012, the USPTO granted more than 16,000 patents in that category, a 157 percent increase in five years. 

On Wednesday June 25, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee spoke at the BIO International Convention in San Diego, California on the importance of patents in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Read Deputy Director Lee’s speech. 

“When you do find that one-in-a-hundred success—that drug that truly works—it’s critical that you have the patent protection necessary to get that drug to market and recoup your investment on the 99 attempts that didn’t succeed,” said Lee. 

The importance of intellectual property in innovation is exemplified through the pioneers and patent holders who were recently inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, a program managed by the USPTO in partnership with the non-profit Invent Now. 

One of these inductees, Dr. Richard DiMarchi,has received international recognition for the discovery of peptide-based polypharmacy directed at the treatment of diabetes and obesity. He received a patent for Insulin LisPro, better known by its trademarked name, Humalog®, which is currently used daily by more than a million patients with Type 2 diabetes. Dr. DiMarchi continues to engage in research, and recently said that one of his unachieved goals is to focus on a disease like Alzheimer’s, reduce it to a molecular target, and then design a drug that will work in human clinical studies. 

Strong intellectual property is key to protecting innovation in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, and the USPTO continues to work on the White House executive actions to issue the highest quality patents possible, add transparency to our patent system, and level the playing field for all players. 

PTO Addresses Importance of Intellectual Property for World IP Day

Blog by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

Today I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of intellectual property during a World IP Day event at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. I want to share my remarks with you through this blog:

One of the challenges I’ve come to appreciate in my own career in IP law, and particularly as Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is how to facilitate a better and broader public understanding of the importance of intellectual property in our daily lives. Let’s face it: As engineers, scientists, academics, and lawyers, we don’t always do a great job helping get the public as excited about intellectual property as we are, or in helping them see the connection between intellectual property, the products they enjoy, and the IP-related jobs created every year in our innovation economy. As recently as 2012, a Commerce Department study found that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to, or 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). That’s a huge part of our economy.

As a child of the Silicon Valley, I saw the power of innovation and intellectual property up close and personal. My parents were immigrants, drawn across the Pacific Ocean by the promise of the American Dream. My father was an engineer, and so were all of the dads on the street where I grew up. They worked for tech companies of all sizes, often founded by just one person who grew their businesses through the power of intellectual property. Many of them had the experience of creating an invention, patenting it, and using the protection that patent provided to obtain venture capital funding, hire employees, and begin producing and selling new products and services. Seeing that process as a child made an indelible impression on me, and I never had much doubt about what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” But of course my childhood was shaped by intellectual property in other ways that I didn’t always recognize or appreciate.