Patent reform snag?

According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal:

A bipartisan effort in Congress to overhaul the patent system — a priority for some of the nation’s biggest technology companies — is hitting resistance because of concerns the U.S. might be exposed to greater foreign competition.
Patent overhaul appeared to be on a fast track earlier this summer. But plans for a quick vote got derailed last month after the AFL-CIO entered the debate, warning that innovation — and union-backed manufacturing jobs — might be at risk if the changes were adopted. The union has considerable clout in the Democratic Congress and expressed concerns with provisions that would expose patents to expanded challenges and might limit damages for infringement.
“At a time when the Chinese government is constantly being challenged to live up to its intellectual-property obligations, we do not want to take actions that may weaken ours,” the AFL-CIO’s legislative director, William Samuel, said in the pointed missive that was circulated on Capitol Hill.

I normally tend to agree with the AFL-CIO on a lot of issues. But on this one they are wrong, wrong, wrong. It seems they have fallen under the spell of the “more-is-better” “lock-it-up-tight” crowd of patents. And they have confused cracking down on counterfeiting with encouraging innovation. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the patent reform legislation that will hinder attempts to crack down on illegal activities in China.
We made this mistake back in the 1980’s with respect to Japan. In order to fight their tactic of patent thickets (the process of defensively patenting everything under the sun to surround a product with a wall of patents), we proceeded to create our own patent thickets. As a result, the culture of defensive patents grew to a point where it is now putting the culture of innovation at risk.
Going down the same path with the Chinese will only make matters worse.
And what does the AFL propose when the Chinese start filing a bunch of questionable infringement cases here in the US? We know that the Chinese strategy is to move up market in the innovation process. What will happen when they start using our own patent system against us? The answer is simple — companies will move their innovative processes to China (or worse yet, be forced to license their technology) in order to get out from under the threat.
Is that really what we want to have happen?

4 thoughts on “Patent reform snag?”

  1. You talk about stifling American innovation: how about making investors wait 4 – 6 years to get a patent, endless PTO challenges and appeals, and then endless and costly litigation and appeals on top of that.
    To make matters worse, the Unions and Congress should realize what the Supreme Court has done in eBay v. MercExchange which threw out over 150 years of legal precedent , is an invitation to infringe on a wholesale level including by the big multinational companies, will create an even bigger backlog of litigation in the US courts instead of less, and which will unfairly penalize the small inventor in America. In addition it will help to dry up new ‘caplital’ for inventions which will slow economic growth.
    What is it that the justices, particularly the so-called ‘strict constructionists’ don’t understand about the word “exclusive” in Article 1 Sec. 8: “…securing…to …inventors the exclusive right to their respective …discoveries…” The greatest inventors in America including the Wright brothers and Tesla spent years and their fortunes fighting patent infringers instead of spending their time ‘inventing.’ What a damn outrage!
    Both eBay and In re Seagate should be reversed with ‘immediate’ legislation.
    80% of new jobs in America are created by individuals and small businesses, but according to the USPTO only about 10% of patents are issued to individuals in the US. If Congress were serious about protecting American jobs and our economy they’d start by greatly streamlining and simplifying the entire process and making it faster, fairer and far less costly for the small, independent American inventor…not more costly. That would start creating more new jobs in America. And they should restrict the practice of corporations requiring their employees to assign their patents to them because these major companies no longer owe their allegiance to America. They’ll move their headquarters, jobs and all the American innovation and ingenuity to another country the minute their bottom line and Wall Street tells them to.
    Someone tell Congress and the Supreme Court to get their heads out of their “you-know-whats!”
    A Good Citizen
    Silver Spring , MD

    Like

  2. You talk about stifling American innovation: how about making investors wait 4 – 6 years to get a patent, endless PTO challenges and appeals, and then endless and costly litigation and appeals on top of that.
    To make matters worse, the Unions and Congress should realize what the Supreme Court has done in eBay v. MercExchange which threw out over 150 years of legal precedent , is an invitation to infringe on a wholesale level including by the big multinational companies, will create an even bigger backlog of litigation in the US courts instead of less, and which will unfairly penalize the small inventor in America. In addition it will help to dry up new ‘caplital’ for inventions which will slow economic growth.
    What is it that the justices, particularly the so-called ‘strict constructionists’ don’t understand about the word “exclusive” in Article 1 Sec. 8: “…securing…to …inventors the exclusive right to their respective …discoveries…” The greatest inventors in America including the Wright brothers and Tesla spent years and their fortunes fighting patent infringers instead of spending their time ‘inventing.’ What a damn outrage!
    Both eBay and In re Seagate should be reversed with ‘immediate’ legislation.
    80% of new jobs in America are created by individuals and small businesses, but according to the USPTO only about 10% of patents are issued to individuals in the US. If Congress were serious about protecting American jobs and our economy they’d start by greatly streamlining and simplifying the entire process and making it faster, fairer and far less costly for the small, independent American inventor…not more costly. That would start creating more new jobs in America. And they should restrict the practice of corporations requiring their employees to assign their patents to them because these major companies no longer owe their allegiance to America. They’ll move their headquarters, jobs and all the American innovation and ingenuity to another country the minute their bottom line and Wall Street tells them to.
    Someone tell Congress and the Supreme Court to get their heads out of their “you-know-whats!”
    A Good Citizen
    Silver Spring , MD

    Like

  3. Patent Reform notes

    The Kaufman Foundation’s Policy Dialog on Entrepreneurship has a good piece on Patent Reform and Our Innovation Economy — including a fact sheet on reform proposals. As they state:The existing system contains deficiencies that are worrisome from the p…

    Like

  4. Patent Reform notes

    The Kaufman Foundation’s Policy Dialog on Entrepreneurship has a good piece on Patent Reform and Our Innovation Economy — including a fact sheet on reform proposals. As they state:The existing system contains deficiencies that are worrisome from the p…

    Like

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