Patent News

Dec. 4, 2013

Inventors Letter Opposing H.R. 3309, The Innovation Act

From inventors Louis J. Foreman, Dr. Gary K. Michelson, M.D., and Dr. Gregory G. Raleigh, Ph.D. in a letter opposing H.R. 3309 sent to House leadership on December 2, 2013:

We write to you as inventors whose discoveries to date have added hundreds of billions of dollars in value to the U.S. economy and improved the quality of lives of billions of consumers worldwide. Our inventions include surgical instruments, operative methods, medical implants, the fundamental technology that underpins all 4G wireless devices and network services, and the core technology in all of the newest Wi-Fi devices. We have also assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs to start businesses to develop and sell products based on their patented inventions.

We write to express our opposition to H.R. 3309, “The Innovation Act” because it 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 bill has been presented to policymakers as a solution for the two things that actually would benefit from Congressional attention: mass patent royalty demand letters and shakedown lawsuits. While we support many of the worthy goals sought by Members of the House of Representatives, the bill was drafted and considered without sufficient input from key inventor stakeholders like us – principally small companies that create the fundamental inventions that drive our innovation economy. As a result, H.R. 3309 will increase the cost of, and diminish the enforceability of, patents for the small U.S. companies that create new inventions. In turn, H.R. 3309 makes it easier for dominant companies to utilize and exploit those inventions without paying a fair price. The provisions at issue include:

• Imposing stays of litigation for an overbroad class of “covered customers”;
• Normalized shifting of fees to nonprevailing parties;
• Requiring overbroad disclosures when a complaint is filed; and
• Weakening the balanced post grant review estoppel provision of the AIA.

We believe a bill that targets abusive behavior in patent litigation is achievable. Congress can curb the harms done by a handful of abusers surgically without creating greater harm to the foundations of our innovation economy. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives is instead rushing to pass a major patent reform bill – a bill that was introduced just six weeks ago – that undermines the enforceability and value of patents. For these reasons, we must oppose H.R. 3309 in it’s present form, and ask that you vote “no” on the bill until such time that these problems are corrected.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.