Morning Consult: The Truth About Patents, by David J. Kappos
This post originally appeared in Morning Consult on September 18, 2015.
The patent reform debate is finally becoming reacquainted with facts and data, particularly regarding H.R. 9, the so-called “Innovation Act,” on which a vote was scrapped before the August recess in the House of Representatives and which now seems less likely to see floor action this year. As members of Congress and their leadership learn more about this bill, they are increasingly recognizing the damage it would inflict on the American innovation economy. Purporting to club “patent trolls,” H.R. 9 veers dangerously beyond that objective by failing to make distinctions between trolls and legitimate patent holders, thus risking serious harm to the U.S. economy’s most important sources of innovation and job creation, including universities, small inventors and venture capitalists.
In today’s global economy, eroding patent rights creates unprecedented risk. If Washington is oblivious to the long-term damage of H.R. 9, the rest of the world is not. Overseas competitors of U.S. firms are gleeful at the prospect of copying the fruits of American innovation with impunity, while countries attempting to spur innovation by emulating the American system of strong inventors’ rights are dismayed with our undermining the world’s gold standard for intellectual property.
Given the global stakes, facts and data must shape the debate. Genuine assessment of the evidence will enable policymakers to tailor solutions to the problems that exist, not those that are imagined.