January 27, 2021

USPTO Director Iancu Calls for Section 101 Patent Eligibility Reform in Farewell Speech

Holland & Knight Section 101 Blog
Anthony J. Fuga
Section 101 Blog

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu recently resigned his position with the USPTO and delivered his farewell speech at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on Jan. 19, 2021. In the speech, Iancu stressed that in order to ensure America's continued technology leadership, "all of us – the Administration, Congress, the courts, and stakeholders – we must all work to ensure we support and protect this American innovation renaissance."

This includes, according to Iancu, addressing Section 101 to "finally resolve this issue that has plagued our system for the past decade." Likely considering the pending American Axle cert petition, he wondered whether the courts would address Section 101. "If the courts cannot do it, then will Congress step in with legislation and finally liberate our country from this quandary? We know that this issue is solvable: we have shown a path forward at the USPTO."

While Iancu and others have called for Section 101 patent reform, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently declined to hear patent eligibility issues since Alice. Similarly, patent reform at Congress has been relatively quiet since 2019 when Congress held Section 101 hearings and released a draft bill. Even then, it was clear that there was a lack of consensus on the necessary reform – or whether reform was necessary at all.

Iancu touched on a number of other issues, including engaging with foreign nations to ensure cooperation on intellectual property issues – namely, to "put an end to state-sponsored theft of intellectual property."

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