Will innovation save the economy, and patent employees?
May 05, 2009
The recession is taking its toll on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. With companies trimming back, or at least maintaining, their current levels of research and development, the demand for patents has tapered.
While innovation has historically led the country out of recessions, the U.S. Patent Office is not seeing such activity this time around, with the threat of layoffs and furloughs for their employees looming.
“Innovation is the way America generally gets out of downturns,” said Robert Budens, president of the Patent Office Professional Association. “At the Patent Office, we’re one of the key drivers of stimulating innovation and for us to get to the point where we might have to furlough or have a reduction in force would just be horrible.”
The problem is a decrease in investments–just $3 billion has been invested by venture capitalists in the first quarter of 2009, according to the National Venture Capital Association. That’s 47 percent down from the fourth quarter of 2008 and the lowest level since 1997.
Many say the consequences will be costly.
“Some people say, `I cannot afford to innovate,’” said Scott Anthony, president of Innosight, a management and innovation consulting company. “What they are really doing is sowing the seeds of their own destruction.”