America Invents Act (H.R. 1249) – Patent Reform Promotes American Innovation and Creates Jobs
From: The Committee on the Judiciary
Bill: H.R. 1249
On April 14, 2011, the House Judiciary Committee reported H.R. 1249, the “America Invents Act,” by a vote of 32-3. The Committee vote comes on the heels of the Senate’s passage of a similar measure, S. 23, by a vote of 95-5. As we continue to build on that strong momentum for final passage of the bill, I wanted to bring to your attention two items. First is a letter of support from Louis Foreman, a prolific independent inventor, on why the positive reforms that the bill makes will be good for independent inventors and small business. Second is a paper that discusses the constitutional underpinnings of our patent system and reform.
In 2005 I wrote the initial patent reform bill to address the problem of “trolls” who sue both large and small companies to extract patent licenses or large jury awards. Trolls typically own weak patents that they will never commercialize. Their goal is to get rich the old-fashion way – by suing. Our founding fathers would be appalled to see how our patent system is being misused. Our nation’s patent system should not be designed to promote legal gamesmanship and facilitate or protect the issuance of weak or overly broad patents.
The America Invents Act has been expressly designed to correct these problems and encourage innovation and promote job creation. The Act reduces the costs of frivolous litigation, increases patent certainty and promotes the creation of American jobs. The Act includes provisions that will bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States; it encourages University research and commercialization, boosting our education system; and it includes provisions that create less expensive alternative legal forums at the USPTO that will reduce the costs of frivolous litigation on job creators. The Act addresses the fundamental question that what is good for American innovators and innovative industries will ultimately be a good deal for all Americans.
As with any comprehensive reform package that involves a broad group of stakeholders and constituencies, there are always a few critics. These folks have questioned whether patent reform is constitutional. Well, let me answer that question directly – the America Invents Act is absolutely constitutional. The America Invents Act is not only constitutional, but it is based directly on the authority granted in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8. It is, at its core, designed to return the American patent system to one that achieves the constitutional imperative of promoting the progress of science and the useful arts. Also, those who claim that any change to the Patent Act is unconstitutional ignore that the Act was originally written in 1790 and has been continually amended on a number of occasions ever since.
Some folks have taken specific issue with the constitutionality of a move to a First-Inventor-to-File system. Here it really is worth noting that early American patent law – that of our Founders’ generation – operated under a very similar system, a First-Inventor-to-Register system. This bill in fact returns us, in some respect, to a system that our Founders created and used. This system rewards the first inventor who independently conceives of the invention, reduces it to practice and enters the PTO application process. The America Invents Act eliminates costly interference proceedings where independent inventors almost always lose, and makes the system less complicated and fairer.
The patent reform journey has gone through four Congresses and dozens of hearings and several different bill iterations. I hope that you will now join me as we bring patent reform to the floor. And I hope that you will agree that the “America Invents Act” will create a better patent system than exists today for inventors and innovative industries, helping to ensure America’s continued economic prosperity and technological leadership.