26 Apr Sensenbrenner and USPTO Director highlight benefits of technology transfer
Hartland, Wis. – At a meeting Monday highlighting university-business partnerships in Wisconsin, Camtronics Medical Systems, Ltd., a medical imaging company based in Hartland, Wis., demonstrated its latest tool for assessing cardiovascular health to John Dudas, acting under secretary of commerce for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. The nations highest ranking patent official also met with companies in Madison and discussed the growing backlog of patent applications and international patent concerns.
Director Dudas’ visit with Camtronics is part of a two-day trip to Wisconsin to meet with patent holders, including WARF, and gather their experiences and concerns about working the USPTO.
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s patenting and licensing organization organized the meeting between Sensenbrenner, Dudas and Camtronics President Gene Bergholz. The meeting was arranged to view Camtronics’ new product, a software package that measures the health of a person’s vascular system to provide an early indication of heart disease. The technology was developed by UW-Madison cardiologist James Stein and licensed to Camtronics from WARF in 2003.
“University technology helps our company stay competitive,” Bergholz said. “I would recommend it to any company that is looking for new ideas and products.”
Sensenbrenner and Dudas were in Hartland to learn how the process of technology transfer – the commercialization of technology created at universities – works in Wisconsin and how it impacts the state’s economy. The pair also discussed efforts on a national level to improve the patent system and promote technology transfer.
In particular, they described two bills recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives: the CREATE Act and the Patent and Trademark Office Fee
Modernization Act of 2003. Sensenbrenner helped pass CREATE, which is designed to simplify collaborative research arrangements between different universities and between universities and industry.
To honor Sensenbrenner’s support of technology transfer, WARF’s managing director Carl Gulbrandsen presented him with an award at Monday’s meeting.
“I’m especially gratified to receive this recognition from WARF after seeing today how Camtronics has worked with the UW-Madison and WARF to bring a product to the market that may eventually save lives,” Sensenbrenner said. “Today’s demonstration by Camtronics truly illustrates the value of university-industry partnerships to our society and the economy.”
Dudas and Gulbrandsen also met in Madison, with leaders of Deltanoid, Stratatech, Mirus and Opgen. At that meeting he heard more about these companies and their experiences with the patent process.
“We missed a patent by days because we did not act fast enough,” said Hector DeLuca of Deltanoid, in reference to the fact the company decided to publish a research paper prior to applying for a provisional patent. “ We wont do that again,” DeLuca added.
Gulbrandsen said that WARF now makes “house calls” and works weekends to file provisional patents. “ We still have people who forget to file for patents. Our faculty’s major interest is research and things published. Sometimes we can file for patents afterwards and we can possibly get U.S, rights but we will have lost foreign patent protection rights.
Dudas told the group the patent office can not keep up with the growing backlog of patent applications. He estimated his office currently has approximately 470,000 patent applications and the average application takes approximately 27 months to process – and double that time for emerging technology patents. He suggested that attrition hiring and funding issues could increase the backlog to an estimated one million applications with an average processing time of 40 months.
“With a strategic plan and the passage of the Fee Bill, the backlog could be reduced in five years, but we need to hire more examiners,” Dudas said.
Dudas also discussed international concerns about patent protection and piracy. “This is a top issue for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well the Joint Commission on Trade.”
Dudas praised the work done by WARF and Wisconsin’s politicians and noted that today’s patent laws reflect that work in the areas of technology transfer and Wisconsin’s efforts serve as a model for other nations.
In addition to Sensenbrenner, Dudas noted the support of U.S. Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Herb Kohl, D-Wis., as well as U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., for new the new pending legislation.
“Acting Secretary Dudas is providing visionary leadership to improve the patent system in this country…” Gulbrandsen said. “His work in the in the Commerce Department gives him a unique insight into the value of scientific discovery, patent protection, technology transfer and their positive impact upon the nation’s economy.”