Insider Louisville: ‘All of us have a stake in an effective patent system,’ by Alex Frommeyer
This article originally appeared in Insider Louisville on December 31, 2013.
Alex Frommeyer is founder and CEO of Beam Technologies, creator of the digital health tool the Beam Brush, and is based in Louisville, KY.
As a startup founder in Kentucky’s science and technology sector, I have had the opportunity to develop many great relationships in the state with other entrepreneurs, technologists and contributors to this emerging ecosystem. Contrary to its national reputation, Kentucky boasts disproportionate clout in entrepreneurship.
The fundamental goal of Kentucky’s growing startup sector is to take risks to build technology and convert research into real improvements in the quality and standard of life for all people. Effective patent protection of these innovations is the foundation for all that follows: startups, investment, tech transfer, R&D, job creation and ultimately economic growth.
For this reason all of us have a stake in an effective patent system, which incentivizes and enables the funding of the breakthroughs that revolutionize how we live our lives.
This coincides with a nationwide push for science and technology to tie itself more directly with overall economic development. The 21st century economy, and its corresponding jobs, is increasingly concentrated in the innovation sector, making issues surrounding intellectual property critical to encouraging and sustaining growth.
The Kentucky science and technology community represents individuals, companies and investors that promote considerable scientific and economic impact in Kentucky and in many ways represent the future of our state’s economy. We serve as the catalyst for progress, bringing together human capital and the needed resources to play an important part in making the U.S. the leader in technology innovation. All of us have a stake in an effective patent system, which incentivizes and enables the successes of revolutionary innovations.
Currently, the Senate Judiciary Committee is moving ahead with legislation to address patent troll abuses, which famously plague certain industries like information technology, software, and electronics.
This is a welcome and overdue sentiment.
However, I am concerned that the legislation proposes unnecessarily broad and untested changes in certain areas that could unintentionally harm inventors and entrepreneurs in other parts of the patent-based technology industry, like biotech and medical devices.
Entrepreneurs and investors in the industry know firsthand that effective, affordable patent protection is essential to garner the extraordinary investment typically required to fund the complex research and regulatory requirements for commercializing a new technology.
Aspects of the bill as it now stands could significantly increase the cost and time required to enforce a patent and thereby undercut its value, discouraging investment and crimping the pipeline built over many years that moves innovation from Kentucky’s universities, entrepreneurs, companies, and scientists to the marketplace.
I encourage members of Congress to continue to obtain expert citizen input and to carefully consider the concerns raised by national organizations in science and technology, the higher education community and entrepreneurs like myself. It is critical to keep the U.S. patent system the world’s driving force for innovation.