SAN JOSE, Calif. – A former top U.S. federal judge said he may create a small but high-level lobbying group in support of intellectual property. Paul Michel suggested the group could press for more funding for the U.S. patent office and try to counter patent reform efforts he said were driven by a small group of mainly Silicon Valley giants.
Separate, broad and controversial patent reform bills have been stalled in the Senate and House of representatives for nearly a year. Companies including Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Microsoft have pushed for reforms that reduce patent litigation.
"Fifteen companies out of the 30,000 [in the U.S. with at least 100 employees] have driven the whole patent reform movement in the Congress, [and] they’re nearly all either Silicon Valley so-called high tech equipment or chip makers or Wall Street financial firms," said Michel in a wide-ranging interview on the IPWatchdog Web site.
"I just think it’s astounding that 15 companies could create such an amount of political power when what they’re recommending looks to me like it will be on the whole detrimental to all the other companies, universities, independent inventors, and research institutes," said Michel who retired May 31 as Chief Judge of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
At least a dozen groups including companies, law firms and trade groups have said they would join or contribute to such a group, Michel said.
"I think it’s entirely possible to motivate 150 CEOs…and that’s exactly what I’m engaged in trying to do, is to try to motivate a small segment of business leaders and a small segment of the media to get knowledgeable, get involved, get motivated, and get active," he said. "I think it will make a huge difference," he added.
In late July, Michel was named the first Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to educating the public on the importance of intellectual property rights to innovation and the economy. Michel also was elected recently to serve on the Foundation's board of directors for a two-year term.