In early June in Washington, D.C., Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI) Executive Director Pete O’Neill testified in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee on the state of patent eligibility in America. One of 45 witnesses across three days of testimony, O’Neill spoke to Cleveland Clinic’s perspective on the importance of having confidence that an issued patent that follows guidance of the USPTO will not be invalidated based on court case-law. His testimony addressed Cleveland Clinic’s experience with patenting the diagnostic MPO test, which led to the creation of Cleveland HeartLab. Specifically, he spoke about cases before federal district courts whereby the court rulings resulted in losing the protection of the MPO patents.
As stated in his written testimony, O’Neill highlighted the imperative need for patents in health care commercialization. Without the protection of patents, it is much more challenging to justify investment in further development of an invention. For example, investors typically do not want to invest in something that cannot be protected, and therefore can easily be copied, which undermines the potential for return on investment. As a result, it often does not make sense for Cleveland Clinic to use development dollars to advance a product without appropriate patent protection.
CCI’s goal is to translate the ideas and insights of our researchers and caregivers into commercial products to benefit the lives of patients. Without reliable protection for patent eligible inventions, Cleveland Clinic and other academic medical centers will be challenged to secure the investments needed to bring new technologies to market – and ultimately the patient.
O’Neill ended his testimony with recommendations for the Committee. His recommendations included giving greater credence to the USPTO’s guidance on patent eligible material, clarifying the eligibility under Section 101 and protecting researchers’ ability to turn their work into potentially life-saving technologies.
To view the whole Committee and read O’Neill’s full written testimony, please click here.