Will Peter Thiel’s Views
Affect US patent law
in the next four years?
CC0 Public Domain
Free for commercial use
No attribution required
Will intellectual property law change under the Trump administration? If so, how?
Of course, no one really knows.
Ars Technica pointed out that
Of the two major party candidates in 2016, only the Democratic candidate has a platform that even addresses copyright and patent policies.
However, we do have some clues as to the President-Elect’s possible views on IP.
The Trump campaign website states that:
According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, improved protection of America’s intellectual property in China would produce more than 2 million more jobs right here in the United States.
The website also states that China "stole hundreds of billions of dollars in our intellectual property."
The GOP platform states:
We cannot allow foreign governments to limit American access to their markets while stealing our designs, patents, brands, know-how, and technology.
The President-Elect derives considerable income from monetizing his own name, likeness, and "brand."
According to Forbes, the President-Elect and his companies own more than one hundred federal trademarks. Trump’s wife Melania and daughter Ivanka also own several trademarks apiece.
Forbes notes that Trump and his companies have "been involved in a half dozen federal trademark lawsuits over the past ten years."
Above the Law reported that Trump filed for trademark protection for his name in China, but was beaten to it by a man named Dong Wei. In China, priority is given to the first to file a trademark, rather than the first to use it. However, Trump regained the right to use his name in China after going to court.
Another hint on possible Trump administration views comes via billionaire venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Thiel was one of a handful of Silicon Valley figures to openly support the Trump campaign, and CNN has announced that Thiel will be joining the Trump transition team.
According to CNN,
Thiel is famous in Silicon Valley for holding extreme, counterintuitive views. He is a rabid libertarian who has invested money to make people immortal, develop floating cities away from the reach of governments, and convince young people not to go to college, among other endeavors.
In a 2014 article in Bloomberg, Thiel referred to the Patent Assertion Entity Intellectual Ventures as "basically a parasitic tax on the tech industry," suggesting he may be no friend to so-called "patent trolls." Whether that antipathy (if it exists) will extend to other patent owners remains to be seen.