Twin hearings in the U.S. Senate and House Intellectual Property Subcommittees recently drew insightful, important questions and thoughts from several conservative lawmakers and others who respect rights to one’s intellectual property. (Conservatives for Property Rights provided the subcommittees input.)


The Senate hearing was tilted to prop up legislation by Sens. Pat Leahy, John Cornyn and Thom Tillis. The renamed “PTAB Reform Act” would further weaponize the Patent Trial and Appeal Board for frequent users from Big Tech and Chinese national champions to easily invalidate issued patents.


The House hearing was definitely no sham front for Infringers Lobby legislation. The House hearing focused on the facts and substance of PTAB’s effects on small businesses. It presented a breadth of witnesses and perspectives on PTAB’s first decade’s performance.


Sen. Ted Cruz reminded the Senate hearing of the fundamental constitutional grounds for IP. “Our Founders included in the United States Constitution the protection [of] not just property rights, but also specifically of intellectual property rights. Article One, Section Eight makes clear Congress's duty to ensure the exclusive right of inventors.”


Sen. Cruz contrasted our Constitution’s provision for securing exclusive IP rights with PTAB’s demolition of IP rights. “I have some concerns when those rights which often amount to a person's livelihood can be stripped away by unaccountable bureaucrats not elected or appointed by the president nor confirmed by Congress.”


PTAB, established by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, quickly became a favored weapon of patent infringers. “. . . PTAB became a very friendly forum for Google and other Big Tech firms to challenge the rights of inventors,” Sen. Cruz said.


Sen. Marsha Blackburn focused on large-entity patent infringers running to PTAB to escape accountability. “Over the last several years, a lot of our innovators in Tennessee . . . [have seen] Big Tech companies end up coming at them on patent infringement. And how can we ensure that PTAB is not enabling the larger tech companies to steal patents from small businesses and innovators?”


An inventor and entrepreneur before entering Congress, Rep. Thomas Massie pointed out that “all the people who[‘ve] complained to me about PTAB are small inventors. The Big Tech folks aren't the ones complaining.” He called into question the stated intent for PTAB: “. . . if the PTAB is faster, cheaper and accurate at resolving disputes, why are inventors opposed to it?”


PTAB has made things worse for patent owners. “For example, in 2020 PTAB found 84 percent of the patents it fully reviewed to be invalid,” Sen Cruz said. “And many patent owners that successfully defend their patents against Big Tech in district court are immediately dragged before PTAB, where they have to defend it.”


The Leahy bill runs counter to Sen. Chris Coons’ STRONGER Patents Act’s proposed PTAB reforms. “. . . I’m concerned that eliminating the PTO’s [Patent and Trademark Office’s] ability to consider co-pending litigation in deciding whether to institute [patent validity challenge proceedings] is a step in the wrong direction,” Sen. Coons said. “Because I think hardwiring parallel proceedings into the AIA increases costs by encouraging duplicative proceedings. And in my view that doesn't benefit the public or the patent system. So any statutory provision to address serial petitions also has to adequately protect, versus repeated attacks, potentially valid patents.”


PTAB’s effect of driving investors away from startups commercializing valuable patented inventions emerged in the House hearing. Rep. Massie, sponsor of a bill that among other things would eliminate PTAB, asked the head of medical device incubator ExploraMed, “Would private capital, angel investors, venture capitalists, would they be more likely to invest in new technologies and ideas if PTAB did not exist?” The answer was yes.


By PTAB’s making it easy to quash valuable patents, it also risks U.S. national security. “China has also found PTAB is a useful tool towards invalidating American patents,” Sen. Cruz noted. “Chinese companies, such as ZTE and Huawei, are prolific petitioners at PTAB.”


Rep. Massie pursued a similar vein. “The U.S. military relies on secure communications, technology, equipment, satellites, networks, and do you think that it's possible that PTAB has contributed to lack of development of that here domestically or that possibly China is taking advantage of the fact that we have a weakening patent system due to PTAB, that we don't have enough investment in things that could provide more national security?” Witnesses agreed.


Rep. Massie, owner of 30 patents, pretty well summed up the PTAB quagmire: “[F]orgive me if I'm a little leery of this theory that the PTAB was set up and established and has succeeded in helping small companies and small inventors.”

There he goes again. President Biden’s launched yet another round of blame-shifting for his 40-year-high inflation.


And he’s pushing Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin for a deal on a skinny Build Back Broker package. Biden, Schumer and other Democrats aim to include drug price controls in whatever BBB may emerge.


Biden has pointed fingers at various economic sectors and blamed them for supposedly causing record-high inflation. Last year, his blame-shifting went big on trustbusting, swinging the antitrust sledgehammer at many major industrial sectors.


Locke’s Notebook recently rebutted the nonsense of blaming oil and gas companies for Biden’s $5 per gallon price for gasoline.


Now Biden’s making more wild leaps of logic, claiming that big-government price controls on pharmaceuticals will tame inflation.


The White House trotted out National Economic Council Director Brian Deese to foist this spin on Face the Nation. What Deese said was economic nonsense.


He asserted that “the single most impactful thing that we could do right now is to . . . pass legislation that would lower the costs of things that families are facing right now like prescription drugs, we could lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate better prices that would actually lower federal spending, and it would lower the cost that people pay.”


Did you catch that? Deese claims that the one thing that would have the greatest impact on reducing inflation is (1) to pass another multitrillion-dollar taxing-and-spending bill (i.e., BBB) (2) containing government price-setting authority. Truly incredulous.


It’s just political rhetoric. Drug price controls would do nothing to reduce runaway inflation.


American Action Forum’s Douglas Holtz-Eakin nails it: “As a practical matter, it is quite the claim that 100 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation problem will be solved by policy directed toward the 1.392 percent of the CPI that is prescription drugs.”


Make no mistake: Drug price controls won’t lower sky-high inflation.


The environmental zealotry and redistribution of wealth provisions of BBB will impose far greater inflationary costs than any miniscule “savings” from drug price controls.


What’s at stake is government dictating take-it-or-leave-it Medicare pharmaceutical prices to drug companies. This “negotiation” is coupled with a punitive 95 percent tax penalty on any drug whose price rises higher than inflation.


AAF warns, “. . . the most significant implication of the BBBA’s dollar-for-dollar penalties on price increases that exceed the rate of inflation is that, for the first time, the federal government would be unilaterally capping drug prices nationwide, both in federal programs and in the private market.”


Looking for a scapegoat for inflation? The blameworthy ones are President Biden and most of his party in Congress.


Biden-Schumer-Pelosi policies (e.g., massive reregulation, weaponizing federal agencies as tools of wokeness and of a radical Leftist agenda) and their inflationary $1.9 trillion in unnecessary spending in 2021 are a thousand times more to blame for the worst inflation we’ve seen since the Carter years than are prescription drug costs.


Facts and reason won’t stop a spin campaign concocted by a desperate White House. Laughable fictions from the mouths of political mouthpieces will keep coming—though nobody in real America is buying it.

“. . . [T]he idea we’re going to be able . . . to click a switch, bring down the cost of gasoline, is not likely in the near term, nor is it with regard to food,” President Joe Biden said. In other words, “Tough luck, America.”


Pres. Biden recently convened a White House pseudoevent to insist he has no control over gasoline and food prices, nor the other facets of Biden’s inflation-infested economy that's hammering every American.


Can you imagine Ronald Reagan or Franklin Roosevelt, George W. Bush or Harry Truman passing the buck that way? Even poor Jimmy Carter, who presided over the nadir of modern economic performance since the Great Depression until now, didn’t commit that callous faux pas.


Last month in Japan, Pres. Biden had the audacity to speak positively about skyrocketing prices at the pump back home: “[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that . . . when it’s over, we’ll be . . . stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels.”


Does that make you feel better forking over more than $4 for a gallon of gas? Or someday being forced to buy an electric vehicle that takes hours to charge enough to go as far as a tank of gas will take you, while the gas pump takes only a few minutes for a fill-up?


The Hippocratic Oath says “first, do no harm,” but Pres. Biden already has done our nation grave harm. He may not be solely responsible for the 40-year-high 8%-plus annual inflation rate, but Biden has most certainly thrown gasoline to intensify the inflation fire. An appreciable portion of the “tax” of inflation emptying Americans’ pocketbooks is attributable to the Biden administration’s deliberate economic and regulatory radicalism.


Biden has spurred gas prices' spiking. From his first day in office, when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and slapped a freeze on oil and gas leases on federal property, he’s acted to stifle the life out of U.S. fossil fuel companies. He also unleashed regulators to hamper every industry with red tape and antitrust enforcers to swing their dangerous sledgehammers.


A methane tax plan, Securities & Exchange Commission climate regulatory burdens, siccing the radicalized Federal Trade Commission on oil and gas companies to trump up “price gouging” claims, manipulating regulatory estimates for an inflated "social cost of greenhouse gas emissions,” a massive federal land grab called 30 x 30.


These are some of the Biden tentacles intended to strangle established U.S. industries that extract, transport, process and distribute oil, natural gas, gasoline and diesel—abundant natural resources they put to practical usage throughout our nation and our economy, and that in the span of the Trump years made America energy-independent for the first time in decades.


While Biden chokes the neck of our oil and gas sector, the U.S. president begs the likes of the OPEC cartel and socialist Venezuela to boost crude oil pumping. Pres. Biden’s creating jobs—just not in the United States. He’d do better by aiming to create new U.S. oil refinery jobs.


Don’t forget Biden’s inflation installment payment, his early 2021 $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.” It slopped trillions more on top of multitrillion dollar spending bills (at least the earlier packages had the virtue of coming during the actual COVID-inflicted economic downturn and public health response). The Biden measure doled out money to middle class families and individuals, schools, and state and local governments—but less than 9% on COVID pandemic measures.


And there’s the Fed inflation factory, printing fiat money by the trillion. The Wall Street Journal called this “the fad of Modern Monetary Theory that low interest rates could finance any amount of government spending more or less forever.” It appears that theory ran into the wall of reality, judging by the epochal, rising inflation rate, now joined by rising interest rates. Stagflation may be around the corner.


Riffing on the Hippocratic Oath, then, Pres. Biden should “second, undo the harm you’ve caused.” Retracting all of the above would be a good first step.

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