At Year's End, Time to Re-Focus on Advocacy Efforts

By Mike Waring
AUTM Advocacy Consultant

As 2021 nears its end, we can look back on a busy and challenging year in tech transfer advocacy.
The new Biden administration brought with it new views on key issues. A tightly-controlled Congress meant a lot of discussion on a wide variety of topics – but so far, not much legislative action. Key regulatory issues also were considered, such as Section 101.
Specifically, AUTM weighed in on these and other issues during the past year:
  • Advancing a role for tech transfer as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which Congress is still working on at this writing. The ultimate fates of both that bill and those provisions are yet to be determined
  • Continuing to urge the USPTO and Congress that patent applicants need relief from a string of bad court decisions that have made Section 101 more confusing than ever
  • Monitoring several bills in Congress that could either roll back advances at PTO during the Andrei Iancu era or provide some positive direction on such things as IPRs
  • Pushing back against the Department of Energy’s Declaration of Exceptional Circumstances (DEC) which could pose a serious threat to investments in energy research 
In all this activity, the AUTM Board was directly involved in initiating or approving the association’s direction. As always, AUTM continues to work closely with sister organizations – particularly AAU and APLU – to ensure that higher education’s united voice earns it a seat at the table as decisions in Washington are made or considered.
As we look to 2022, the challenges will continue. The Senate will soon take up the nominations of new leadership at both the USPTO and NIH. These are critical agencies affecting how tech transfer works and the ways in which intellectual property can or cannot be asserted. We can also expect more focus on IP as Congress weighs issues such as drug pricing and the rising concerns about trade with China.
I urge all AUTM Members to stay on top of the issues so that you can be ready to assist your organization when called upon to weigh in with policymakers. One good way is to check the AUTM Speaks Out page.