America’s strong patent and intellectual property system provides a strategic advantage in our country’s mission to remain the leader in global innovation. Unfortunately, so-called “patent reform” legislation introduced in the House and Senate yesterday would actually weaken intellectual property protections for American manufacturers and put hundreds of thousands more Americans on the unemployment lines.

Last fall, I joined with Reps. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) in leading a bipartisan coalition of 64 Members of Congress to seek major changes to preserve American ingenuity and jobs in last year’s flawed patent bill. The bill died in the Senate last fall. The bill introduced yesterday has almost all the same elements of last year’s bill and continues weaken America’s strong patent system, making it easier for foreign companies to take our ideas and our jobs.

By diminishing the damage awards in patent infringement cases, this new bill would encourage intellectual property theft by foreign competitors, putting 298,000 American manufacturing jobs at risk and curtailing U.S. research and development spending by $66 billion, according to a recent economic study. It makes no sense to us why we would threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Americans at a time when our people are in desperate need of jobs.

In this difficult time for U.S. manufacturing, we hope the authors of this bill will abandon this contentious approach and instead work with us on patent reform legislation that strengthens American jobs rather than puts them at risk. Let's tackle consensus issues like Patent and Trademark Office efficiency, patent pendency and patent quality. Let's work together to reform the system, rather than take actions like diminishing the value of damages that could obliterate it.