The first major patent reform legislation in years is only two years old, yet the patent system remains plagued by wasteful litigation that is harmful to innovation. Fortunately, new patent reform legislation addressing these problems is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.
Every community across this country has its haves and have-nots, those with or without the digital literacy and access needed to put the Internet to work for their lives. America’s digital divide remains far too real. It is more important than ever to talk about getting all of us up to speed.
The popular mind connects the idea of patents with specific inventions: the telephone, the light bulb and the proverbial better mousetrap.
In reality, patent law is much more complex. The current information-driven economy has revealed shortcomings in the way patent law addresses innovations involving software and the information technology processes. To extend the mousetrap analogy, the way today’s technology patent process works it’s as if you can merely describe the process of baiting, trapping and killing the ordinary household rodent and gain the leverage to sue for patent infringement anyone who actually designs and builds any new mousetrap.
The bipartisan Innovation Act introduced last week by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) is a strong response to the economic burden of patent trolls. This bill, which has both bipartisan and bicameral support, will reduce the unfair advantages and incentives that patent trolls rely on. It will also strengthen the patent system while making patent litigation more efficient, transparent, and balanced. The end result will be a boost for businesses across the country, and ultimately our economy.
It may sound like something remarkable happened in the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning when the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held its hearing on “The Evolution of Wired Communications Networks.”
With the introduction of Rep. Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) patent reform bill today, the march for patent reform is moving forward. But a small, though growing, chorus is trying to halt this march under the guiding light that changes to the patent system should “do no harm.” As owners of patents, they parrot the meme that change might negatively impact their possessions and even their property rights.
Scientific enterprise faces its greatest challenge in decades. The effects of the federal shutdown, combined with budget cuts implemented this year as a result of sequestration, pose a significant barrier to healthcare innovation in both the public and private sectors.
The leadership of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been in a state of flux for many months. This is unfortunate because innovation is one of the key drivers of the U.S. economy. For example, in 1975 intellectual property and other intangible assets accounted for only 17 percent of the market value of the S&P 500. Today, such value exceeds 80 percent. A study by the Department of Commerce revealed that in 2010 more than 27 percent of all jobs in the U.S. were (directly or indirectly) attributable to IP-intensive industries. IP industries have also been a leader in our economic recovery. From 2010 to 2011, IP-intensive industries had a 1.6 percent increase in employment as compared to 1 percent for other industries. Clearly, intellectual property is a huge contributor to the U.S. economy and sustained economic growth.
Trolls are companies or individuals that do not develop or make anything, but use their patent ownership to demand money from others. From research to anecdotes, abundant evidence demonstrates the negative impact of patent trolls on individual companies and on America’s economy as a whole.