Patent News

Dec. 18, 2014

The Blaze Op-Ed: Congress is Pushing Patent Reform That Only China Would Want, by Erik Telford

This post originally appeared in The Blaze on December 18, 2014.

With a Republican wave sweeping into Congress, hopes are on the rise once again that our elected officials on Capitol Hill will find a way to make themselves useful. Professional pundits have pressed Republicans, soon to be in control of both chambers of Congress, to show America they’re in the business of getting things done. Patent reform is seen as legislative low-hanging fruit that can be resurrected to rise above our partisan squabbling.

In the case of the revitalized push to overhaul the patent system, the backers come largely from companies like Google — who stand to benefit financially by tipping the courts in their favor. These companies have the wooing power of lobbyists and plenty of scary-sounding statistics on their side.

Proposals to overhaul the patent system would affect all patent holders, not just those subjected to supposed abuse. They would also provide a template for foreign governments and companies who are in the business of stealing U.S. intellectual property. China, for example, has a rocky record on intellectual property and has been on the U.S. Trade Representative watchlist for the past 25 years. The Chinese government and companies there could adopt arguments similar to those we are making for overhaul and twist them to avoid heavy R&D costs and undercut U.S. companies. There is no need to make it easier for them to erode the competitive edge that our patent system provides, or the innovation that these protections allow to flourish.

Many tech companies and individual inventors make money licensing their patents. This type of specialization is a testament to our free market system. These inventors deserve to reap the rewards of their ideas and recover the cost of their investments, whether they manufacture a product or not. The current path of so-called reform we’re on would threaten that. The strong patent protections in America have always been a catalyst for economic growth, and they always will be. If we water down these standards, it opens up new markets for China and other bad actors to abuse our intellectual property.