Patent News

Feb. 11, 2015

The Hill Blog: Celebrating Inventors’ Day by protecting strong patents, by Charles Sauer

This post originally appeared in The Hill on February 11, 2015.

Inventors’ Day is usually a day to celebrate innovation, but this year it is also a day to defend innovation and entrepreneurs, and push back against members of Congress who are proposing to weaken our patent system, undermine property rights, and harm job creators in our country.

Inventors depend on a strong patent system to ensure our ideas and innovations are protected and have a chance to go from idea to product, which also means jobs. While we celebrate inventors today and highlight the fact that our Founding Fathers created a patent system and literally enshrined it in the Constitution, we are in danger of undermining this very fragile system in the hunt to stamp out a few bad actors.

To quote President Abraham Lincoln: “Before [the adoption of the United States Constitution], any man might instantly use what another had invented; so that the inventor had no special advantage from his own invention. The patent system changed this; secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”

While new patent legislation has quickly emerged as an issue that some in Congress hope to address this year, their motivation for doing so is still largely unclear. Supporters of new legislation claim to want to protect small innovators, but the bills they are considering assume that innovators are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent. They claim to support small businesses under attack by onerous demand letters, but the bill they are considering in the House of Representatives doesn’t include a single provision targeted at demand letters. And they claim to support small entrepreneurs, but they have failed to ask even one small entrepreneur to testify at any hearings held on the legislation.