Bipartisan, bicameral group highlights broad opposition to sweeping anti-patent legislation moving through Congress
House scheduled to vote on Innovation Act in July, Senate could take up PATENT Act this year
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and David Vitter (R-La.), and U.S. Representatives John Conyers (D-Mich.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) held a joint press conference today to highlight the broad opposition to sweeping anti-patent legislation moving through Congress.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 9, the Innovation Act, before the House concludes legislative business in July. The Senate may take up S. 1137, the PATENT Act, this month or in the fall. H.R. 9 is strongly opposed by inventors, small businesses, venture capitalists, startup communities, and manufacturing, technology, and life sciences companies.
“The fact of the matter is that these two bills would be destructive to our innovation economy, and we're working hard to ensure they won't be treated lightly in either the House or the Senate,” said Senator Coons. “A strong patent system is one of the critical ways we distinguish ourselves from competing economies around the world, and we cannot afford to rush into passing a bill that would further weaken our innovation economy, which is exactly what the Innovation Act would do by making broad changes that fail to protect all patent holders. I will continue working hard with colleagues from both parties in the House and the Senate to shine a light on the significant flaws in H.R. 9 and the PATENT Act in the Senate."
“Passing the extensive patent reform being proposed in the House could hurt the very communities patents are meant to protect – innovators, small businesses, and job creators,” said Senator Vitter. “The past three years have seen drastic changes to the patent system. We shouldn’t further overhaul the entire patent system because of a few bad actors. Rather than a blanket overhaul that would cause more uncertainty, we need to strike the right balance and take a targeted approach that minimizes litigation abuse, protects end users, and empowers innovators at the heart of our economy.”
“Abusive patent litigation requires a targeted approach, H.R. 9, the so-called ‘Innovation Act,’ is far from that,” said Rep. Conyers. “The overly broad legislation could potentially weaken every single patent in America. It favors big businesses over small inventors and start-ups by including harmful provisions like presumptive fee shifting, expanded joinder, heightened pleading standards, and discovery limitations, yet it fails to prevent fee diversion or address the use of deceptive demand letters – two of the most significant solutions to address abusive patent litigation. As I have stated before, H.R. 9 would have unintended consequences that will harm legitimate patent holders and stifle innovation in America.”
“As a small inventor with 29 U.S. patents, I oppose H.R. 9, the so-called Innovation Act, because it threatens American inventors, particularly individual inventors and those working at small businesses and startups,” said Rep. Massie. “The bill attempts to “fix” a few isolated abuses of the patent system, but instead it sets forth a comprehensive overhaul of the existing legal framework that compromises the rights of all legitimate inventors. If Congress recklessly weakens our patent system by passing this bill, inventors’ very livelihoods will be threatened. Inventors will stop inventing, and as the role models for young inventors quietly fade into history, fewer young students will pursue this rewarding career path. A decade from now, Congress will lament the lack of interest among our nation’s youth in subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, arrogantly unaware that Congress itself destroyed it.”
“As a small business owner who started a company that supports hundreds of good manufacturing jobs, I have been on both sides of patent fights – asserting the patent rights of the company and defending patent claims brought against it. So I understand the need for balance in our patent system,” said Rep. Foster. “H.R. 9 would throw the system out of balance, making it almost impossible for garage inventors to even attempt to protect their intellectual property against established players with deep pockets. The so-called Innovation Act has the potential to stop small companies like ours before they can even get started.”
“What is clear is that the so-called ‘Innovation Act’ is the wrong approach and will undermine the entire patent system,” said Rep. Peters. “Instead we should craft patent reform legislation that actually fixes the problem and allows for innovators to develop their ideas free from frivolous litigation, gives inventors a clear and reasonable route of recourse when they are wronged, and brings our patent system into the 21st century.”