Sen. Orin Hatch has boiled down the essence of complex intellectual property law to this simple question: "Should Zantac have a shorter patent life than a toilet seat?"

Hatch (R-Utah), co-author of the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act, usually known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, last week told a meeting of the Federalist Society that the patent term for innovative drugs should not be reduced as a result of the FDA approval process, particularly because the market exclusivity of more prosaic inventions is not similarly limited.