"There is a business adage that says, 'You win in the turns.'  That is, when there are big shifts in the marketplace, the best companies gain market share and put distance between themselves and their competitors because they have the vision and flexibility to spot tectonic change and leap ahead when it occurs, while others are simply overwhelmed."

This interesting quote taken from a new book: Thomas Friedman & Michael Mandelbaum, That Used to be Us, How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How We Can Come Back, 2011, pages 34-35.

Assuming President Obama signs the patent reform legislation Friday as announced, we are at a fundamental turning point in the US patent system.  By analogy, will the US win in the turns?  I am very interested to see what sort of presidential remarks will be made with respect to innovation policy as part of signing this legislation, and whether they will move beyond platitudes and existing pronouncements.  Earlier reports had indicated remarks may be made with respect to commercializing university research.

The central feature emphasized in the patent reform is moving to a first-to-file system.  I have been reading much commentary suggesting that this fundamental change will help "large" companies and harm "small" companies.  I also read much commentary that the key to new job growth resides with small companies.  Hence, the government and private sector must watch carefully the impact of patent reform on new job creation.

In their new book, Friedman and Mandelbaum believe the US PTO and our patent system are a leading example of necessary regulations on private activity including safeguards and incentives.  See pages 35-36.  They also, however, cite a McKinsey report noting the PTO's backlog as an obstacle to job growth.  See page 322.   Challenging days are ahead to reduce the backlog when some in Washington want to cut back on funding while more-and-more want to file new patent applications.  The result could be more backlog.  Hopefully, no one loses in the turns.