The United States has lost its reputation as the global gold standard for IP and patent protection. In 2018, the U.S. fell to 12th place in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s international ranking of patent system strength, falling behind countries such as South Korea and Spain. The U.S. also fell out of the top 10 of Bloomberg’s international innovation index for the first time. And in July, the World Intellectual Property Organization, Cornell University and INSEAD released their 2018 Global Innovation Index similarly showing the U.S. falling out of the top five for the first time.
How did the U.S. lose its way after 230 years of innovation? A combination of legislation passed by Congress, such as the America Invents Act of 2011 (AIA), and a series of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, have resulted in the unintended consequence of weakening an inventor’s ability to protect patents from infringement. The net result has been reduced confidence among venture capitalists and chilled risk-taking by innovators and inventors.
It’s clear the patent system is in dire need of a tune up. Fortunately for American inventors, members of Congress are waking up to the results of these actions. In fact, in the last year, there have been four pieces of legislation introduced aimed at strengthening our patent system and getting American innovation back on track:
S.1390 & H.R. 5340, The STRONGER Patents Act
Originally introduced in the Senate by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) in June 2017 and more recently introduced in the House by Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Bill Foster (D-IL), the STRONGER Patents Act aims to right the wrongs that have weakened the patent system over the last 10 years. Specifically, the bill contains provisions to:
- Ensure injunctions are available to inventors whose IP is infringed upon
- Limit repetitive and harassing challenges against inventors in Patent Office administrative proceedings
- End fee diversion and restore crucial funding to the USPTO
Support for the STRONGER Patents Act has been widespread with momentum building among diverse groups and organizations.
Lend your voice and support the bill here.
H.R. 6264, Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act
Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) is both an inventor and a legislator. His bill, the Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act, has three primary goals: 1. Return the United States to a first-to-invent patent system. 2. Abolish IPR and post-grant review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). 3. Create a Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in place of the PTAB.
H.R. 6370, Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters (TROL) Act
Representatives Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) re-introduced the TROL Act in July. Their bill targets abusive demand letters while maintaining the integrity of legitimate patent enforcement practices for all patent holders. Importantly, it sets a uniform federal-level national standard on demand letters and would help avoid a patchwork of state laws that would make enforcement of patent rights extremely burdensome and expensive, which could chill the sending of legitimate patent-related communications made in good faith.
H.R. 6557, The Inventor Protection Act
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) also introduced the Inventor Protection Act in the House in late July. Rohrabacher’s bill similarly seeks to address challenges that inventors face in defending their patents, including daunting PTAB proceedings, unreasonable infringement suit filing location requirements and the loss of injunctive relief.
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