As we look forward to 2024, we asked LES USA-Canada leaders (presidents, board members, sector chairs) for their best predictions of trends to watch in IP and licensing in 2024, as well as the goals for LES in the coming year.  Looking at the predictions, there is a range of events and trends that LES leaders are paying close attention to, from the Masimo v. Apple patent dispute to the latest developments in March-In Rights.  Regarding the goals for the society, LES leaders have exciting plans for membership growth and program development.  Let’s dive in to see what is in store for the LES community in 2024!

IP Developments to Watch in 2024

  1. March-In Rights

Several of the respondents commented on the issue of March-In Rights, expressing a range of sentiments.  One person commented: “I’m concerned about March-In rights and ripple effects into the academic and startup community.”  Another person was more optimistic: I predict the drug pricing issue will be resolved without using March-In rights and weakening Bayh Dole”.  A third respondent pointed out a process initiated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a framework for exercising March-In rights that could have far reaching implications: NIST is seeking public comments on a Guidance Framework for Considering the Exercise of March-In Rights, specifying factors that a government agency may consider when exercising march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act. As part of actions to reduce health care and prescription drug costs, this change proposes that price can be a factor in deciding to exercise march-in rights. This proposed change may have applicability to patents beyond the drug industry and is one to watch in 2024.”

  1. IP Litigation

The Apple-Masimo patent dispute around the Apple Watch was at the center of several predictions.  Most predictions noted this case as one to watch in 2024, as it could “put patent issues in the public arena in a way they haven’t been for some time”.  Another prediction went even further to anticipate that “the courts will continue to support efficient infringers… hurting small business further.” On other IP litigation trends, one respondent predicted “more enforcement activity from universities, particularly in the biotech space.”

  1. Patents and Funding

Generally speaking, LES leadership is optimistic about patents.  In addition to patent litigation, another trend that was highlighted was the growing role patents play in supporting funding for startups: “Patents are definitely having a moment, and investors are paying attention. This trend is particularly visible in old-school “low tech” industries, like construction, where companies are looking to disrupt traditional industries and are using patents to create a moat around their product. This trend is also visible in industries that rely on patents more frequently, like cleantech and aviation, where companies are spending time and money to craft a robust patent portfolio before going to market, closely aligned with product development. This trend is poised to become more prevalent in 2024, as funding is getting harder, and companies need to show more value in their assets.” 

  1. Trade Secrets, Data and AI

Another set of predictions are related to a trend towards “increasing Trade Secret protection and litigation”.  In the realm of trade secrets, Data and AI are top of mind for LES leadership: “The data (both public domain and IP-protected) that is being used to train various types of AI software is going to be even more in the forefront of IP disputes, as original data owners will insist that their data is being gathered and used as training sets without their permission or a license in place, and without proper compensation. I believe that this will come to the forefront in 2024.”  Another prediction went further as to anticipate that as a result of using AI tools “we’ll discover more potholes in the legal system.” In this context, it should be noted that LES USA-Canada will be hosting a half-day event, titled: Trade Secrets, Data and AI: Assets for Growing Business and Generating Revenue.

  1. Legislation and Regulation

IP legislation and regulation seem to constantly be in the works.  One respondent generally predicted that “Congress will not pass new IP legislation to fix the AIA”. Other predictions revolved around more specific issues, such as the Orange Book registration: “The US FTC and FDA appear to be working to tighten standards for listing patents in the Orange Book (which lists patents that can trigger certain actions under the Hatch-Waxman generic drug provisions).”  Rounding up this set of predictions, on the topic of IP waivers: “COVID-19 IP waivers remain under discussion, including in the context of multilateral trade negotiations, although the upcoming elections may stall progress on such negotiations broadly.”

  1. Drug Development & Gene Editing Treatments

Last but not least, some exciting predictions related to new drugs and treatments:

  • “Weight loss drugs – despite concerns around Ozempic causing lean mass loss but I think we can expect to see other drugs based on GLP-1 receptor agonists come to market. “
  • “Gene editing treatments for disease indications: in 2023 Vertex was the first to get regulatory approval for its ability to cure sickle-cell disease. More to come in this field. “

Goals for LES in 2024: Exciting Times Ahead!

The goals that LES leadership set for 2024 have been succinctly summarized by LES president, Ann Cannoni: Building and growing the LES community, and providing valuable content and networking opportunities to our members.”

Other Board members have echoed Ann’s vision and elaborated on these goals (some of these initiatives are hyperlinked for quick access to relevant information on the LES website):

Growing the LES Community:

Content and Networking Opportunities:

Thank you to LES Board members and Sector Chairs who contributed to this blog: Mihaela Bojin, Ann Cannoni, Eric Gottschling, Efrat Kasznik, Louise Levien, Shayne Phillips, Karen Temple, Eric Victory.

Want to share your 2024 predictions? Contact us here.

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