United States Intellectual Property Organization (USIPO)

by Dennis Crouch

I have written a handful of posts over the years suggesting a merger of the USPTO and Copyright Office to form a United States Intellectual Property Organization (USIPO).  The current fractured structure means that we lack a coherent administrative approach to treatment of the various IP regimes, even though they obviously overlap in very important ways.  Further, although trade secrets are increasingly important to US industry, no federal agency is providing any oversight or guidance.  The political difficulty here, I believe, is that major copyright industry insiders feel that they have captured the copyright office and so are concerned that a transformation would harm their lobbying position.

Apparently, Sen. Thom Tillis is thinking along these same lines, and has been meeting with industry insiders to see whether there may be a consensus approach.  The proposal may be larger — taking control from the President’s hands and creating a more independent agency.

12 thoughts on “ United States Intellectual Property Organization (USIPO)

  1. 5

    Of course there will be more overlap than ever as economic value becomes ever more abstract and amenable to treatment as IP. Of course there should be one agency- each government agency is expensive and needless duplication is pure waste.

    The line between patent and copyright is, of course, as clear as day: the human skull. Inside is for copyright, outside is for patent. When machines consume content, they cannot infringe a copyright. When humans consume content, they cannot infringe a patent.

  2. 3

    Apparently, Sen. Thom Tillis is thinking along these same lines, and has been meeting with industry insiders to see whether there may be a consensus approach.

    I am glad you phrased it this way. A meeting that excludes the public or a representative of the public interest in a robust public domain is not a meeting that meets with “the stakeholders” (as I have seen it elsewhere reported).

    1. 3.1

      The use of the phrase “robust public domain” is a tip-off that you mean robust freeloading capability.

      1. 3.1.1

        Those that take from, but don’t return anything to, the public domain are the ones exhibiting “robust freeloading capability.”


          You presume too much, as you should know that paten holders have struck a deal that PROVIDES to the public domain (after the expiration of the limited times portion of that Quid Pro Quo deal).

          YOU are the one taking it upon yourself – and very much in line with your general tendencies and biases – to not pay any attention to the presence and level provide BY STATUTE at 35 USC 282.

          you have drunk way too much of the Efficient Infringer kool-aid.


          I grew up in St Louis, MO. The local newspaper (the Post-Dispatch) had a columnist named Bill McClellan who had grown up in Chicago. In one of McClellan’s columns, he recounted an anecdote about his Chicago-city father getting pulled over by a traffic cop in rural Illinois in the 1950s. When the cop asked for the father’s license, the father wrapped the license in a $20 bill (modestly serious money in the’50s).

          The cop arrested the father for attempted bribery. When McClellan’s dad eventually got back to Chicago and told the tale to his neighbor, the neighbor was scandalized: “imagine, running an honest, taxpaying citizen like you into the police station!”

          In short, after decades of living in a milieu in which police graft was the norm, the father and his neighbor considered that slipping the cop a bribe to make the ticket go away was the “honest” thing to do. Years of living in a crooked circumstance had warped their perception of what is “honest” and what is “criminal.”

          Mutatis mutandis, one sees the same thing around these parts. There are folks who have been working for grifter clients for so long that they sincerely cannot recognize the difference between the well functioning of the patent system and abuses of the system. They are as sincerely scandalized as McClellan’s neighbor when one describes how a well functioning system is supposed to deal with the abuses.

      2. 3.1.2

        In the spirit of the season, it’s worth pointing out that “It’s a Wonderful Life” wasn’t particularly popular around the holidays until its copyright expired. Now it’s a mainstay of American culture.

  3. 1

    The difficulty I have heard from copyright practitioners is that the Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress, and “Congress” doesn’t want to give up the CO to the Executive Branch. Politics doesn’t have to make sense since my understanding is that the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights are both appointed by the President.

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