From the Alliance

Dec. 4, 2013

American Inventors Warned of Negative Impacts of ‘Innovation Act’ on U.S. Innovation & Economy; Called on Members of the House to vote ‘NO’ on H.R. 3309

WASHINGTON – A group of American inventors held a press conference to discuss the negative impacts of H.R. 3309, The Innovation Act, on U.S. innovation, economic growth and job creation. The inventors called on members of the U.S. House to vote ‘NO’ on the legislation if it comes up for a vote in the chamber this week.

Participants in the call included: Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research & Development, Dr. Greg Raleigh, Ph.D, CEO & Chairman of ItsOn Inc.; Dr. Gary Michelson M.D., Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Inventor; and Louis Foreman, Product Development & Innovation Expert. The call was moderated by Brian Pomper, Executive Director of the Innovation Alliance.

“These are real inventors – in the trenches, every day, trying to come up with the next best thing and the only way they are able to protect their rights to what they invent is through strong patent rights. We wanted to hear from them and what they think HR 3309 will do to their ability to enforce those rights,” said Pomper. Below are quotes from the inventors during the call:

Dean Kaman

  • No one can tell you what’s right or wrong with HR 3309 – it is changing all the time. I understand there’s more than 20 amendments added to it as recently as yesterday and for some reason it’s moving very quickly. A very few people, including those in the House and Senate, spend their days dealing with patens and intellectual property and this is a big potential issue for this country.
  • The patent system has been a main driver of keeping the U.S. economy ahead of the rest of the world since this country was formed.
  • Any bill that tinkering with the main engine of innovation ought be looked at very very carefully and not whipped along.
  • If you read [HR 3309]…it’s not clear what most of its consequences will be.
  • While people very simply brush along and say “We’ve got to get rid of trolls and other patent abuses” which is true, then they package it up and say “This will do it” I have a lot of concerns as I read it that it not only won’t do that but it will serve to dramatically increase the barriers especially for small inventors to be able to get and protect their intellectual property which as a consequence will prevent the public from getting access to what should become the next generation of great technology that will deal with all issues – healthcare environment, education.
  • If anything this country should be finding ways to strengthen the patent system at a time like this — in the global competitive environment, not make it harder to get and protect intellectual property. We need to add incentives, not add barriers.

Greg Raleigh, CEO & Chairman, ItsOn Inc.

  • I think Congress may have good intentions but I don’t believe it has been thoroughly and well informed about how to surgically strike at this issue of patent trolls.
  • One of the causalities of that in [HR 3309] would be the universities. The universities are particularly poor at commercializing technology but they are certainly very good at discovering and inventing those technologies – they are non-practicing entities (NPEs) –but certainly not “trolls” in any sense of the word.
  • I think [HR 3309] is like a blunt club when what’s called for is surgical precision.
  • Gary Michelson, Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Inventor
  • My companies’ inventions [4G, Wi-Fi, network function virtualization] are worth hundreds and billions of dollars to the U.S. economy – they service billions of consumers. I want to make this super simple – I don’t think I could’ve started my companies [that have created these inventions] with this type of patent law.
  • The combination of complexities, arbitrary maneuvering, that the giant corporations can use this for when they want to copy our invention and not pay us a fair price will put us out of business.
  • For me, it’s very personal. [HR 3309] will make it very, very difficult to get venture funding for start-ups.
  • My personal experience: the large companies that we approached in the early phases in all 3 of the start-ups I did thought our ideas were too crazy, were not going to be interesting to the market, and would take too long to develop. The only way we could bring them to market was to go get venture funding, take great risk, put in the hard work and sweat equity to bring them into the world and prove to them that they are valuable, these are things people need and want. At that point the next step is that the big competitors want to copy what you’ve done after you’ve done all the research, you’ve taken all the risk and you’ve created the market.
  • The only way we survive when those big guys show up is to have patents to protect our rights to monetize the inventions we work so hard to create – this bill makes this impossible. Suggested re-wording: This bill makes protecting our patent rights to monetize the inventions we work so hard to create impossible.
  • Just like everyone on the pro-innovative side of this bill, I’m stunned at the speed with which [this bill] is going – [policy makers] do not understand what is happening to us out here and what this is going to do to our economy.
  • If you assume everybody out there is a troll – then maybe the bill makes sense but this crushes legitimate patent holders. Inventors, start-ups, universities, as well as large corporations by denying access to a fair process and a fair outcome when the giant competitors copy what we create.

Louis Foreman, Product Development & Innovation Expert

  • When AIA [American Invents Act] began years ago, what impressed me about the process was that all the stake holders was brought together, there was a thorough vetting of the legislation and all stakeholders got to get something from the legislation. What scares me about HR 3309 that it’s going so fast that I would say most independent inventors don’t even know anything is happening.
  • [The passing of HR 3309] seems to be done in a cloak of darkness without the ability for others to weigh in. There is so much potential damage that can come from this legislation.
  • I understand that you need to end abusive practices and you want to discourage bad behavior from patent trolls but at the same time the collateral damage, the impact this is going to have on entrepreneurs and independent inventors is going to be so great that it will be terrible for this country and terrible for innovation in general.

Earlier this week, the inventors sent a letter to House leadership expressing their opposition to H.R. 3309, writing that the legislation “will make patent litigation for legitimate patent owners and inventors significantly more expensive, burdensome and protracted and it will undermine the enforceability of patents generally. This is bad for inventors, bad for innovation, and bad for America.” The full letter may be found here.

Contact: Kat Maramba, 202-827-9678,