Patent Reform Proposals Threaten American Prosperity; Importing Foreign Patent Law Will Undermine American Inventors

Article excerpt

Byline: Rep. Donald A. Manzullo, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Our nation's greatness can be tracked to our early days of innovation and entrepreneurship. The United States of America was the place where life-altering inventions were born and marketed to the masses to change the course of history. The great American inventors, including Samuel Morse, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers, set our nation on the path to prosperity.

Despite this impressive track record, which has been the envy of the world, some in Congress want to change our successful patent system, which has guided American innovation for generations. Legislation has been introduced again in Congress this year to dramatically alter our patent system and harmonize it with those in Asia and Europe, regions that do not produce anywhere near the scope of innovation as America. Could it be that our current patent system is better at protecting inventions?

I have had serious concerns with previous patent-reform efforts that have threatened the inventions of American entrepreneurs. I have successfully worked with the House Judiciary Committee to develop lower fees for small inventors and protect them from the premature release of their patents. Unfortunately, contentious issues in patent reform keep re-emerging.

I am deeply concerned that the America Invents Act (H.R. 1249), which was introduced earlier this year, will stall American innovation and send more of our jobs overseas. This legislation reflects an approach to patent reform that stalled previously, in 2007, in the face of massive opposition from American innovators.

Like its Senate counterpart (S. 23), the House bill includes an unfortunate provision that would shift America's current patent system (in which the first person to conceive of an invention is granted a patent) to a first to file system that would turn our system into a foot race to the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

The U.S. has always awarded a patent to the first inventor to come up with an idea, even if somebody else beat him to the PTO. The Constitution, in fact, mandates that inventors have exclusive right to their discoveries. It's one of the main tenets of our nation that have led our citizens to seek the American dream. …