From the Alliance

Jan. 29, 2014

Innovation Alliance Executive Director Brian Pomper’s Opening Remarks for POLITICO Event: “State of the Union: Reactions and a 2014 Preview from the 113th Congress”

Thank you very much, Lois for your introduction. I am pleased to be here this morning on behalf of the Innovation Alliance, a group of companies that care a lot about the state of our union and the future of the country. So I’d like to give a special thanks to POLITICO for organizing this event and for taking the time for a serious look at issues that affect us all.

I was thrilled last night to hear the president repeatedly promote the importance of innovation as the United States competes with the rest of the world, and the key role in job creation played by small technology start-ups. These are the kinds of companies that rely most on protection of their intellectual property to attract investors and help them compete against larger rivals at home and abroad. I follow innovation policy closely, because the Innovation Alliance represents leading innovators, technology companies, manufacturers and employers from a broad range of industries and in large and small communities across the country. Our members believe in the critical importance of maintaining the strong patent system that was envisioned in the Constitution. For more than two centuries, the patent system has incentivized innovation, promoted economic growth and job creation, and helped to create the greatest economy the world has ever known.

So it was good to hear President Obama note that the ideas and inventions behind smartphones, vaccines and a diverse host of American innovations represent our best hope for competing against the rest of the world.

The president also briefly mentioned patent reform. And though he avoided specifics, I know from what he has said in the past that this administration recognizes how important protection of intellectual property is to our economic growth.

The importance of patents has only increased in the 21st century, when the knowledge-based economy has helped to distinguish the United States among all other nations. As many of you who follow technology issues know, the U.S. patent system is the “gold standard” in protecting ideas and intellectual property. According to the recent TIME Invention Poll, the United States is viewed worldwide as the country that does the “best job of protecting ideas” by a 4 to 1 advantage over other nations.

Patents fuel this country’s innovation economy, creating millions of jobs each year and securing our role as the global leader in breakthrough discoveries. As policymakers consider changes to the patent system, they should take the time needed to develop a consensus product that will be a force for progress for the full range of American innovation, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Patent legislation is extremely complex and must be addressed with caution, careful understanding of unintended consequences for inventors and small businesses, and with an eye toward protecting and preserving the system that has served our country so well for so long.

While a lot of the conventional wisdom about problems with the patent system is wrong, the Government Accountability Office tried to set the record straight in a solid report on patent litigation. And though the GAO report hasn’t received much attention, we remain hopeful that Congress will take the time to look at patent issues more deeply and get any new legislation right so that genuine problems are fixed without jeopardizing the livelihoods of small inventors, research universities, and anyone else who works hard to bring new inventions to life.

Thank you again to everyone for joining us today. I look forward to what will be an interesting discussion.

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