Recommendations Following the FTC’s October 2018 Hearings on IP and Innovation
On October 23-24, 2018, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held hearings on intellectual property (IP) and innovation as part of its broader ongoing hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. The hearings focused on the role of IP protection in promoting innovation, as well as the foundational question of whether the FTC (and the government more broadly) should play a role in advancing or supporting innovation and, if so, what role. The Commission is seeking further public input through its consultation process on this important (and commendable) inquiry, including asking whether the FTC currently uses its enforcement and policy authority to advance innovation, and what factors it should consider in attempting to achieve this objective. The hearings also included sessions on the role of IP in business and investment decisions, emerging trends in patent quality and litigation, and industry and economic perspectives on current U.S. IP and innovation policy.
This short article summarizes some of the major themes from these hearings and provides an economic and legal analysis of the relevant testimony. The authors conclude with recommendations for the FTC to consider when evaluating possible future enforcement and policy work in this area. Their recommendations focus primarily on certain concerning positions taken in the Commission’s 2003 and 2011 IP Reports, namely with respect to patent quality and the recommendation that courts adopt an ex-ante incremental value approach when calculating patent damages.