It’s easy to get side-tracked by talk of lipstick on pigs, and to get caught up in rhetoric of who will or won’t be tough on terrorists, criminals, Wall Street CEOs and Main Street plumbers. But with the election 14 days out, and little attention given to the candidates’ plans for innovation and invention, I thought you might appreciate a quick overview of the candidates’ official policies in this area. Look elsewhere if you’re seeking biased content – this posting gives an objective summary so you can make an informed choice that's best for you.
Big Picture: At a very high level, the presidential candidates have fundamentally different views on how to foster innovation:
McCain: The U.S. government can best spark innovation by cutting corporate taxes and regulations, because doing so will create an environment in which companies are more motivated to pursue innovation.
Obama: The U.S. government can best spark innovation by financing more science, math and engineering education, because doing so will increase the nation’s ability to innovate. The U.S. government should also fund more big research endeavors that will spark commercial spinoffs.
Inventions & Patents: Closer to your world of invention, the candidates have different plans for how the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) will handle your inventions.
McCain: PTO needs new resources to hire and train more examiners so it can do more, faster. It is also important to create a new TBD approach to resolve patent challenges, because litigation is expensive and many lawsuits are frivolous ones aimed at getting big settlements from companies. Additionally, the U.S. should pursue more international agreements and enforcement efforts to protect intellectual property outside the U.S.
Obama: PTO needs more resources to improve patent quality and open the process to citizen review, which would also help reduce uncertainty and wasteful litigation. PTO must also create a new administrative proceeding process that can assess questionable patents and patent challenges in a quick, low cost way before litigation. Additionally, patent applicants should have the choice to pursue a strong, more defensible “gold plated” patent if they are willing to undergo a more rigorous initial review including peer review.
Budget note: The non-partisan Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, at the request of The New York Times, estimated McCain’s innovation plans would cost ~$78.8 billion and the Obama innovation plans would cost ~$85.6 billion. That said, the winning candidate’s innovation plans will certainly evolve due to the budget realities he inherits.
Does this help you make your choice, change your opinion, or reinforce that you made the right choice already?