House passes bills on small business, patents, economic espionage

Specifically, the bill would increase the availability of financing, from $225 million to $350 million, for two or more SBICs that are under common control.

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In a separate vote, members approved H.R. 6621, a bill that amends the patent reform law that was approved in 2011, the America Invents Act. Among other things, that law moved the U.S. to a "first-inventor-to-file" patent system.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who sponsored the patent reform bill last year in the House, said the bill is needed to make various technical corrections to the bill. But during debate, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said the bill also adds language that would require the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to report to Congress on some patent applications, which could include the name of the inventor.

"This report, as mandated by this bill, will include information about the applications that have been traditionally kept confidential, including the name of the inventor, which has always been confidential to prevent these inventors from attack by very powerful interests who would steal their invention."

Despite Rohrabacher's objections, the House passed this bill 308-89, although 70 Republicans and 19 Democrats opposed it.

Finally, the House approved S. 3642, the Theft of Trade Secrets Clarification Act. This bill amends the Economic Espionage Act to protect the theft of trade secrets related to both goods and services, and it was passed 388-4.

All three bills were suspension bills, meaning that they required a two-thirds majority for passage.

After these votes, the House passed two bills by voice. One was S. 3687, amending Federal Water Pollution Control Act to reauthorize the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration program.

The other was H.J.Res. 122, setting the date for the counting of electoral votes for president and vice president (no text was available as of Tuesday night).


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