I believe we have to redevelop in this country the passion to get things applied.
For that reason I would like to see a patent system that extends the time period of a patent for applications and, if the originator of a patent is able to apply it, grants those extensions. I think this is key in concept to problems in the drug industry where, in fact, it takes so many years to get the drug to commercialization and the period has been entirely used up by then.
The third idea I would like to discuss is the issue of globalization in fact, not just in word. At Corning there was no question from anybody as far as I can tell, that Corning Glass Works scientists, led by Bob Maurer, developed the glass that makes optical waveguides as we know them and optical communications possible. If someone wants to challenge me on that scientific fact, they are welcome to do so.
Those patents were issued in the United States seven years before they were issued in Japan. During those seven years they went unissued in Japan, Sumitomo was able to (1) go into manufacturing using an illegal process and (2) develop a competing process that allowed it to stay in business.
I consider that inexcusable—a failure of the patent system. I would recommend strongly, if anybody has the ability to make it happen, that there be a system in which, within two years of issuance by the first country, there is a presumption of issuance in all of the treaty countries.
The fourth concept I would like to discuss is the real confusion between evolutionary minor developments, which are so important to businesses, and inventions. The vast majority of these evolutionary developments are not inventions. They are things anybody who is an expert in the field could have done if he put his mind to it, and in some cases, they are being done simultaneously.
This is also an area in which small companies have problems in competing with big companies. When I was a managing partner of American Research and Development, one of our portfolio investments was a company called Fusion Systems. Those of you who know intellectual property will recognize Fusion as the company that makes ultraviolet (UV) lamps and has had a long-standing fight with Mitsubishi. There is no question again that Fusion invented the concept of the modern high-intensity UV lamp. Mitsubishi got an early example of it, proceeded to reverse engineer it, and then patented every variant imaginable in Japan. It went to Fusion and said, "If you want to sell in Japan you need to cross-license this—by the way, that includes rights to sell in the United States."
I consider that to be an inexcusable failure of the world patent system. I think the only benefit that should come from these minor variations is permission to compete, if you own the basic technology. I would like to see