From the Alliance

Jun. 10, 2016

Inventing America 2016 Conference Speakers Stress Importance of Protecting Patent Rights in Promoting Innovation and Job Creation

Washington, D.C. – At the Inventing America 2016 Conference in Washington, D.C., speakers stressed the importance of protecting patent rights in promoting American innovation and job creation, and warned that legislative and judicial changes in recent years have already tilted the scales against patent holders.  Video from the conference will be available at:

Here are some key quotes from the conference speakers:

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

“American invention, has quite literally, changed the world. And because our Founding Fathers had the foresight to include protections for inventors in the Constitution, no less, our patent system has protected the inventors and entrepreneurs behind these innovations for over 200 years.”

“A one-size-fits all approach for patent reform does not work… Thousands and thousands of companies use the patent system, but it’s only a small number… that are pushing for the [broad-sweeping changes].”

“The changes we make to our country’s patent law can have ramifications for how competitive we are in the international arena… We want to be sure that our patent laws don’t get changed in a way that disadvantages our corporations and players in the international marketplace.”

“Is our patent system still the gold standard? If we all work together we can make sure that it remains so.”


Paul Michel, Former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

“[The weakening of the patent system] is a threat to the future of the country, the economy, our ability to be globally competitive against foreign rivals.”

“Before AIA, patent enforcement was already too expensive, too slow and too unpredictable. AIA was supposed to resolve those problems. But what it actually did was make it more expensive, even slower, and even more unpredictable. It needs revision. We need to reform the reform of AIA.”

“What the policymakers of this country need to focus on, but seem to not focus on… is that smaller, newer entities like startups and university spin-offs create most net new jobs and most new technological breakthroughs and most economic growth… The very entities that need the patent system most are suffering the ones suffering most under the new regime.”

“[Investors] aren’t going to invest if there isn’t a reasonable prospect of a good return. Instead of investing it in invention, they’re going to invest it in something else. That’s the crisis that’s facing the country.”

“Once again the balance of power is shifting out of America and towards Europe and Asia because of [patent] policy decisions being made here in Washington, D.C. that don’t make sense.”

“The incidence of frivolous suits… is something in the neighborhood of… 5%. The judiciary can deal and is dealing with that… There are other devices being used by the courts to deter and punish truly frivolous lawsuits. But the reality is that it’s not the majority; it’s a small percentage. But Congress has been led to believe that it’s the norm. And it isn’t the norm, because numbers aren’t being used; isolated anecdotes are being told and being represented as being the norm when they’re aren’t the norm.”


Barney Cassidy, General Counsel, Juno Therapeutics

“We were able to raise money to launch [Juno Therapeutics] and commercialize these therapies only because the patent system was not completely eviscerated by the legislation that’s even now pending in the Congress. If H.R. 9 or S. 1137 had been the law at the time when we formed the company, which was 2013, we would not have been able to raise the capital necessary to collect the intellectual property, reward the inventors and advance these drugs to the approval stage that we’re now in.”

“To advance this science and to reward these inventors, we need a strong patent system. And it’s definitely under threat.”

“The inventor is who we really need to protect… [They’re the ones] that go to school, use their genius, that use their hard work to solve problems that haven’t been solved previously… Those people deserve to be rewarded. Others in the field need to know they’ll be rewarded if they’re successful.”


Robert Taylor, RPT Legal Strategies PC

“There is a concept that has made its way into Silicon Valley. It’s widely accepted by a lot of the large electronics companies called ‘efficient infringement.’ It’s cheaper to infringe than it is to take a license.”

“Everyone wants to see solar energy, wind power, other ways of producing energy come into being. Those investments will not get made if the people who are making those investments can’t protect them.”

“It’s important to recognize that the segments of technology that are going be impacted by the failure to get enforceable patents is going to be huge. And it comes at a time when China has announced to the world that they’re going to be the technology leader of the 21st century. They’re increasing the importance of patents in their country… This is going to be our primary competitor. If we don’t do something to correct the course we’re on, we’re going to be buying our drugs from Chinese companies… instead of from American companies.”


Barbara Gault, Vice President and Executive Director, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

“More patents, it’s estimated, would decrease unemployment, would speed productivity and would lead to more publicly traded companies… Increasing patents by 10%, the Brookings Institution claims, would increase GDP by about 11%.”

“We do have evidence that having patents increases access to venture capital. It sends a signal of the value of an idea, the value of an innovation. So if we intend to increase women’s representation as the heads of startups or increase their access to venture capital, patenting will be an important part of that process to give them that stamp of approval.”


Ami Patel Shah, Managing Director, Fortress Investment Group

“From an investor’s perspective, I’ve stopped investing in certain technologies because I just can’t rely on what the Supreme Court and the federal circuit is going to do, or the lack there of, to remedy what Congress is doing.”

“It’s the smallest companies that I’m investing in that are having the hardest time… It’s the David and Goliath story here.”


Jennifer Gottwald, Licensing Manager, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

“Obviously, we all know, America’s innovative ecosystem works best when we’re utilizing all the resources available to us. We know right now that we’re making very inefficient use of female innovative capacity, to put it in blunt terms… We really, really need a strong and inclusive patent system, which is going to be super important for the economic opportunities for women and other groups… That’s going to help us in the long run.”


Bobby Franklin, President and CEO, National Venture Capital Association (NVCA)

“Once we could educate first our board and then our membership [about the unintended consequences in the recent patent reform bills], there was near unanimity about what this could mean for entrepreneurs and for those trying to start and build great companies here in the US.”

“A strong intellectual property system is a foundation that you have to have for entrepreneurs to take the risks, for investors to invest in it… to make that grow to create new jobs. It was said earlier…that all of the net new jobs comes from these new innovative, inventing companies that depend on patents.”


Mark Leahey, President and CEO, Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA)

“We just saw this trend both with some of the legislative proposals and Supreme Court decisions just completing eroding the strength of IP in this country.”

“We’re one of few [U.S.] industries that exports more than we import. Part of that is the patent system.”

“There have been a lot of changes here: judicial conference, courts, legislation. Let’s let that feedback loop play before rushing to make additional changes.”

“I think it was very telling last year… that the face of this issue was the patent troll and the mom and pop retailers who are getting these demand letters and this is horrific. So what happens? The TROL Act is introduced, gets at this targeted demand letter issues and all the folks who say this is a problem say ‘no, no, we don’t support it.’ That’s the Trojan horse. It’s the sympathetic face they had in the public to get some sympathy, but their real goal was to make it easier and cheaper to infringe.”

“If I have a fire in a wastepaper basket of my home office, I don’t flood the house to put out the fire. I use a fire extinguisher. These proposals [like S. 1137 and HR 9] would flood the entire patent system.”


David Winwood, President, Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM)

“Patents are a major part of the currency in which the technology transfer offices deal with the world around them and outside the university environment. We have fairly demonstrably shown that the system works.”

“Patents and our ability to participate in the patent system are really fundamentally crucial to the university tech transfer community.”

“At the start of this Congress… we penned a letter to Congress and the appropriate committee chairs … [saying] we did not want them to break the patent system because that would be really detrimental to everyone involved.”


Charlie Giancarlo – Chairman, Alliance for U.S. Startups & Inventors for Jobs Advisory Board

“Throughout my career… patents were very fundamental to the startups that I was involved with. Many of them would not have been able to receive funding from venture capitalists had those investors considered that if we had an invented a new product that any of the large companies at the time… could have easily copied it and… sell it around us.”

“It’s invention that requires patents. It’s research that needs to be funded through the promise of a reward associated with a patent.”

“For startups that require a lot of investment in order to get to their product… patents are absolutely critical to raise the initial capital. Otherwise you’d never be able to be funded in the first place.”

“The real issue is that we’re tilting the playing field. We’re strengthening the patent system when the patent is owned by a large manufacturer and we’re weakening the patent when it’s held by an individual inventor or startup.”