Apple, Pfizer And Others Form Patent Reform Lobby

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD), General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are taking their household names and turning them into the collective Partnership for American Innovation (PAI). The U.S. Senate is currently looking at legislation that would limit the powers of patent assertion entities, derogatorily referred to as patent trolls, but at the same time making software and biotechnology innovations unpatentable. The latter is the crux of the lobby’s formation, and the reason that pharm and tech are teaming up to form this lobbying group.

Apple, Pfizer and others’ mission

David Kappos, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is senior advisor to the group which stated its purpose in a press release today:

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PAI members represent a diverse cross section of the economy; they have different business models, use their patent portfolios in very different ways, and are frequently competitors. Together, these companies invest more than $40 billion every year in research and development and depend on the patent system to safeguard those investments. PAI-supported R&D supports over 1.2 million jobs and has created iconic products and services that consumers depend on — everything from the light bulb to the iPhone.

The seven tech and pharmaceutical giants formed a lobbying group Thursday aimed at defending the U.S. patent system from pending legislation they argue could unfairly harm innovative companies.

“It is in our country’s best interest to have a patent system that rises above short-term interests and creates long-term gains for all sectors of the economy,” continued Mr. Kappos. “We must move beyond rhetoric that ‘the system is broken and trolls are bringing businesses to a complete halt’ to a discussion of calibrated improvements for what is actually the best patent system our planet has.”

The other side of patent reform

The group will find itself immediately at odds with Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO), and others who have been forced to dole out billions to patent trolls and support the Innovation Act which was one of the few pieces of legislation passed by the House of Representatives late last year.

Speaking to VentureBeat, a Microsoft spokesperson pointed out today that the Redmond,WA-based company doesn’t object to patent reform per se and DID support the Innovation Act, but it shares Kappos’ belief that companies’ investments in research and development must be safeguarded.

Earlier this week, Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Github, Yelp Inc (NYSE:YELP), and LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) filed a brief to the Supreme Court positing that “innovation happens despite software patents, not because of them.”