Patent News

Jun. 28, 2015

IP Watchdog: The Grassley PATENT Act will make our faltering patent system worse for innovators, by Bob Krause

This post originally appeared in IP Watchdog on June 28, 2015.

A few weeks ago, the PATENT Act, S.1137, was pushed through the Senate Judiciary Committee. My 2016 general election opponent, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, chairs this committee and pushed the legislation. The legislation will damage inventors, innovative manufacturing companies and small independent entrepreneurs that are Iowa’s economic backbone.

Iowa has always been a place where everyday people come up with innovative new ideas, patent them and start companies.Throughout Iowa, innovative small businesses and small-time entrepreneurs dream of making it big. They invent and patent everything from three point hitch attachments to high tech software. Thousands of inventors are dreaming up the next big thing to sell to a manufacturer or investor.

Even I have had my dreams. I invented and patented a system for intermodal transportation at one point in my career (see Patents 4,416,571 and 4,547,107). While circumstances were unfavorable to development, the challenge of putting the concept together, and seeking capitalization, was etched indelibly on my consciousness. I understand the undercapitalization issues that small time inventors face. I understand the sneak-peeks that established multi-nationals will garner to steal from someone they know has vestigial ability to fight them in court. I understand the sanctity of the patent that is necessary to capitalize a startup.
Iowa inventors and innovation businesses drive our local economies by creating thousands of jobs for Iowans. “Grow your own” has always been the best and most reliable strategy for economic growth, and it cannot be done without a sound and fair patent system. Preservation of a fair patent system should be a top priority for Iowa if we are to grow prosperous companies as well as crops.

Today, our patent system is faltering. A few misguided decisions by the courts and the “so-called” America Invents Act of 2011 has made it a CEO’s fiduciary responsibility to steal patented inventions and massively commercialize them with no concern for patent rights. Weak patent rights create big problems for small time independent inventors, small businesses and investors.