With the Presidential Election soon approaching, it is a good time to review the candidates’ thoughts on intellectual property. While their stances on intellectual property may not be a determining factor for the Presidency, it will impact the IP industry and the economy that is becoming more and more innovation-based.

Even though some may not think intellectual property is an important factor in elections, it is prudent to keep in mind that the American Invents Act (AIA) was supported and signed by President Obama. Whether you are for or against the AIA, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) played a large role as they lobbied Congress with the Administration viewpoint.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton released her Initiative on Technology and Innovation, a detailed 14-page document on her agenda. She is working closely with Todd Dickinson, former Director of the USPTO under President Bill Clinton, on intellectual property matters, and he feels “other campaigns will be hard pressed to match the depth and thoughtfulness of these proposals.”

In the proposal, Clinton states that she wants to improve the patent system by rewarding inventors. She states, “[s]ince our country’s Founding, the United States patent system has been an envy of the world and has helped propel inventions from the cotton gin to the computer.” She has a twofold platform to accomplish this goal: 1). Reduce excessive patent litigation through additional targeted rule changes; 2). Strengthen the USPTO’s operational capacity by allowing the USPTO to invest funds left over from annual operations to new technology, personnel, and training, as well as implement a faster review of patent applications.

Clinton’s initiative explains the following in regards to patent reform:

“The Obama Administration made critical updates to our patent system through the America Invents Act, which created the Patent Trial and Appeals Board, and through other efforts to rein in frivolous suits by patent trolls. But costly and abusive litigation remains, which is why Hillary supports additional targeted rule changes. She supports laws to curb forum shopping and ensure that patent litigants have a nexus to the venue in which they are suing; require that specific allegations be made in demand letters and pleadings; and increase transparency in ownership by making patent litigants disclose the real party in interest.”

Clinton also discussed copyright policy in her initiative stating “the federal government should modernize the copyright system by unlocking—and facilitating access to—orphan works that languished unutilized, benefiting neither their creators nor the public.”

Donald Trump

Trump’s initiative, Reforming the U.S. –China Trade Relationship to Make America Great Again, is focused more on China’s loose intellectual property laws stating “China engages in illegal export subsidies, prohibited currency manipulation, and rampant theft of intellectual property. 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.”

Trump’s initiative wants to protect American ingenuity and investment by “forcing China to uphold intellectual property laws and stop their unfair and unlawful practice of forcing U.S. companies to share proprietary technology with Chinese competitors as a condition of entry to China’s market.”  The initiative also wants to end China’s intellectual property violations by “enforc[ing] stronger protections against Chinese hackers and counterfeit goods” and “going forward, we will adopt a zero tolerance policy on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer.”

According to the initiative “China’s ongoing theft of intellectual property may be the greatest transfer of wealth in history. This theft costs the U.S. over $300 billion and millions of jobs each year. China’s government ignores this rampant cybercrime and, in other cases, actively encourages or even sponsors it –without any real consequences.”

While many different topics will be discussed tonight, it will be interesting to see if the debate sheds more light on IP issues.