Revolving Door Between Gov't And Industry Continues: Pharma Lawyer Goes To USPTO As Gov't Financial Regulator Goes To Wall St.

from the who-needs-bribes? dept

The level of regulatory capture between the government and industry is really quite sickening these days. There’s a revolving door where government officials go work for industry and vice versa, with plenty of back-scratching in both directions. Two separate stories crossed my desk at about the same time, highlighting this in both directions. First up, it’s really no surprise that one of the pharma industry’s favorite lawyers has just become deputy director of the US Patent Office. Of course, the pharma industry is one of the more aggressive ones when it comes to expanding the power of patents, and abusing them to block innovation in healthcare. Now they have another person on the inside to help.

Going in the other direction, a senior “dealmaker” and advisor to the government’s FDIC program has jumped ship to Goldman Sachs. That article lists a bunch of other top government officials involved in dealing with the financial crisis and setting the new regulatory rules, who have wasted little time in taking new jobs in the private sector on Wall Street. As some have pointed out, this kind of revolving door makes bribes totally unnecessary. You don’t need any form of bribery or overt corruption, when the corruption is entirely implicit in the nature of the revolving door.

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Comments on “Revolving Door Between Gov't And Industry Continues: Pharma Lawyer Goes To USPTO As Gov't Financial Regulator Goes To Wall St.”

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24 Comments
Beta (profile) says:

closing the loop

I understand why a government official would want a fat corporate job (and perhaps be willing to act in the corporations interest to get one). And I understand that a corporate executive would make a corp-favorable government official (out of habit). But I think I’m missing something. I don’t see why a corporate exec would want to move into the public sector (prestige? ease?). And would that person have any incentive to keep working for the former employers benefit — apart from mental inertia?

Here are a couple of questions I’d really like journalists to consider when writing these stories:

1) Can we find anything specific this official did for this company before joining it (e.g. did Jiampietro do anything particularly favorable to Goldman Sachs)?

2) Who appointed this executive to public office, and do they get anything from the corporation, or the same sector (e.g. did anyone who backed Rea get campaign contributions from Crowell & Moring beforehand, or a corner office afterward)?

3) (Going out on a limb.) Can we see a strong enough pattern here that we can predict which civil servants will take lucrative jobs with which companies over the next year?

DeAngelo Lampkin (profile) says:

On the one hand, I say let's not *assume* corruption...

Government officials switch between taking money in public and private enterprises all the time. I’d like to think that at least SOME of them are honest.

They need people who’ve worked in the industry to be qualified to create policy. I mean how often has it been said that we need more technically competent government officials for making rulings on things like software patents, IP law, etc. You’re not gonna find life-long bureaucrats wtih those skills!

-DeAngelo
http://www.braincano.com
http://www.cheerthis.com

xs (profile) says:

On the one hand, I say let's not *assume* corruption...

The entire US political structure was based on the principle that public officials should not be assumed to be honest. All the check and balance designed into the system were there because the designer assumed officials could not be trusted to be honest, thus needing all the restraint in the system to stop them, and make exposing them easier if they do.

All of these wink wink deals our politicians and private sections have going on right now is the result of us assuming there aren’t any real corruption going on. The system can only work when the common people use the system as it’s designed. When there’s apparence of corruption, for the most part, there ARE corruptions.

I think it’s highly important for our public officials, lobbyists, and private sector heads to sign agreement barring working for the other side for a few years after ending the corrent employment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Where there is smoke...

there is probably someone smoking. But there is rarely fire, no matter how hard you try to make it look that way.

Some people make a ton of money in the business world, and decide to move to a life of politics (Mayor Bloomberg, anyone?). Others toil almost namelessly in the public service for years, and finally leave the government to work in a high paying “private industry” job (Condeleeza Rice, director of the Standford Global Business Center).

Sometimes it is a choice, sometimes it is a change of government.

I can imagine some people looking at working in the government as a challenge, the old “I could do better than that” mentality that has them taking on the challenge. For some it’s a life changing experience, for others it is a reason to hit the exits as fast as they came in.

Where are their current contacts? For many it will be with the companies they are regulating. Perhaps they do such a good job (not a biased job, a good job) that one of these companies offers them to go work in the private sector instead. Yes, they are buying knowledge and skill. But they are not buying access.

Quite simply, 2+2 doesn’t equal 5, no matter how hard Mike tries to make it look otherwise.

Anonymous Coward says:

Teresa Stanek Rea has practiced law for the last 25 years as a patent lawyer, with her pre-law experience being that of a pharmacist. The majority of her legal career was with the firm of Burns, Doane, Swecker and Mathis in DC, and more recently with Crowell & Mooring, also in DC. Thusly, it seems inaccurate to say that a “pharma lawyer”, which makes it sound as if she was an employee within a pharma company, has now jumped ship from a pharma company to a government position within the USPTO. This inaccuracy is further compounded by the fact that her practice of law has involved far, far more that just pharma matters.

Given the constant criticism here that the USPTO consistently issues “bad” patents, I would think one would welcome someone holding a position of authority within the USPTO who actually knows the law, has worked with a wide diversity of technologies for a wide diversity of clients, and who may actually be able to provide leadership and direction that could help overcome the criticism.

angry dude says:

Big news

Mikey

it’s been like this for decades

Top fed executives take top executive positions with private companies in the same industry space after retirement (with full government pensions)
– to help those private companies get lucrative federal contracts from their buddies still in the gov office but waiting for their own turn

who needs to bribe feds on the job ?

I can tell stories nobody would believe…

But now the shit is starting to hit the fan -this country is finally broke

Thomas Grebinski says:

Patent protection blocking innovation

I disagree with the belief by some that patents block innovation. I cannot sepak for health care. However, I can speak for the positive role patents can play in high technology innovation. My direct experience is that even with patent protection, when there is money involved, companies and people deliberately steal others ideas to do the same. The protection afforded by the issuing of a patent, gives the owner the legal right to take back what originally belonged to them. Patent protection does not block innovation because at least some companies and some people will take what they feel they need to make money anyway. It ony gives an owner the leagl right to capitalize on the use of its intellectual property without a license to do so.

Talon360 (profile) says:

More Govt Regulatons needed?

See, this is more evidence that we need MORE, MORE, MORE regulations to be enacted!!! Government needs to police these things better because the “private sector” has abandonded all ethics in the interest of self-benefit (I.E. do whatever you need to do to better the competition and/or ‘those who regulate’). NOT!

Seriously, WE THE PEOPLE need to use the technologies available to us (BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT STARTS TO REGULATE IT) and initiate the discussion/actions to STOP this type of corruption!!!

Talon360 (profile) says:

closing the loop

Oh, you don’t nderstand the ego of these people and the HIGH they get when appointed to high level government positions in the DC Inner Belt (unlike most of those in high level positions away from DC, NYC, etc.).

And, for many of them, this is a necessary step to filling out their credentials. Then they go back to the ‘private sector positions’ with insider knowledge, networking, etc. – an education you just can’t buy – or maybe you can after all!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

When on the ‘inside’ – whether it be industry or government, depending the entry level of the person, one’s main interest will remain that to ‘corrupt’ the system by working in the interest of the higher bidder: so when working in industry you work for $$$, lots of $$$ – and when in Govt you work for $$$, lots of Govt $$$ – How you get those $$$ will be a matter of the ‘implicit’ corruption and corruptive behaviour allowed. In Govt. you can manipulate the system in the interest of the $$$ which is usually for the industry (forget the consumer!); and when in industry – you work to push your company’s objective: lobby for the interests of your company balance sheet- $$$ and yourself. It’s all about corporate greed. Thankfully there are Saints that are not corrupt so they balance out the system. The worst thing that could happen is when the system becomes fully poised to follow ‘corporate’ greed and intentions. In the world of IP that is happening at some IP offices around the world, but led by the example of the current WIPO administration. EPO and OHIM seem to be OK -for the moment ….

teka (profile) says:

Patent protection blocking innovation

okay.

your “direct experience”, lets hear it.
Who stole. Literally stole, not invented separately, not had a competing product on the market that was eventually argued to sorta kinda infringe on some level, but stole. Who stole what patent and why, and how was it resolved?

Without details “direct experience” is a claim that anyone can throw out. sound and fury, but no substance.

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