THE BLOG
12/07/2010 04:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

My Tax Dollars Pay for This? U.S. Commerce Secretary Threatens India as Favor to Special Interest

How would you feel if a Chinese diplomat attempted to exert influence over an American court case involving a Chinese company's bogus attempt to shut down American companies from offering products to the American people? You probably wouldn't like it, and neither would I. Well, that's exactly what our Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke, has done to India, writing a letter on behalf of one American company (Gilead Sciences) that is losing its bid in India courts to use a junk patent application to shut down Indian companies from offering a very important AIDS drug to the Indian people. For shame, Mr. Locke. For shame.

Specifically, Secretary Locke wrote to India's Commerce Minister, "I am particularly concerned that the US biopharmaceutical firm Gilead's HIV/AIDS drug Viread receives fair consideration" regarding its patent application. The letter continues, "Gilead is currently appealing its case before the IPAB. I seek your commitment to ensure that the company's appeal is treated in fair, transparent and timely manner."

What do you mean by "fair consideration," Secretary Locke? Are you alleging that India's legal system doesn't provide a fair, transparent and timely process to all participants? That's a pretty serious accusation, and seems baseless given the lack of any evidence that supports your allegation Gilead isn't receiving "fair consideration." Is it every day that you make baseless threats of foreign countries, Secretary Locke, or only some of the time?

And, do you know, Secretary Locke, that it is actually our patent system, right here in the good ol' U.S.A. that is unfair to international parties? Yes, we have severe xenophobia right here in our own patent system, where foreign litigants do not get a fair trial as compared to their domestic competitors.

How would you respond, Secretary Locke, if the Commerce representatives of foreign countries had the gall to write you and ask for "fair consideration" on behalf of one of their companies that was attempting to get an undeserved patent so that they could shut down American companies from offering a product or service of importance to the American people? I doubt you'd respond in any way that even comes close to the response you're hoping to get from India to your letter regarding Gilead. Again, Mr. Locke, for shame. This is not leadership, it's hypocrisy. America needs to lead by example, not edict.

Just for the record, I'm as American as they come. My grandfather died on the beaches in France fighting Hitler (my father has the Purple Heart to prove it) and my best friend is in the Middle East right now putting his life on the line everyday so you and I can live free in this wonderful country of ours, which is better than any other on the planet. But, my love of country does not extend to a love of anyone, including Americans, making meritless claims to special entitlements and privileges. It gives us Americans a bad name, as though we think we deserve to win on name alone, just because we're "American." But that's not what it means to be American, and it isn't a proper role for U.S. government officials within the Commerce Department to meddle with the internal affairs of foreign countries. I admit this is radically conservative of me, thinking we should mind our own business. But, if we follow the Golden Rule, and treat others the way we'd want to be treated, I doubt anyone of any political persuasion wants other countries telling us what to do. Shouldn't that be our guide?