Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Opinion: Legislation would weaken patent laws, by Brett Healy
This post originally appeared in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on September 5, 2015.
Protecting private property rights is a fundamental tenet of the freedoms on which our country was founded. While we often think of those rights as being applied to a piece of land or structure of some kind, those protections are arguably even more important when used to safeguard a person’s invention — his or her intellectual property — from those who want to take it without just compensation.
The Founding Fathers had the good sense to include intellectual property protections in the Constitution. That constitutional guarantee led to the creation of a patent system that has incentivized innovation since the days of Benjamin Franklin and facilitated the creation of the most potent economy the world has ever known.
Thanks to patents, inventors and the investors who finance their ideas know they have solid protections to ensure that their hard work will not be stolen out from underneath them.
But all that is under attack in Congress right now. Some in Washington are pushing for legislation, euphemistically known as the Innovation Act (H.R. 9) and the PATENT Act (S. 1137), that would make it more difficult for America’s inventors to protect their work from counterfeits.
The push for this legislation is being driven by multinational companies that want to use their political connections to crowd out competition and tilt the rules in their favor.
Standing against this ill-conceived effort are individual inventors who don’t have the financial wherewithal to slug it out either in court or in the political process with these big companies. The “garage inventors” have the most to lose in this fight, as their ability to assert their patent rights will be significantly curtailed by the proposed legislation.