December 4, 2013
The U.S. House will vote tomorrow on H.R. 3309, or the “Innovation Act.” Proponents of this bill want you to believe that it will strengthen U.S. patent law and its protections for American entrepreneurs and inventors. Eagle Forum opposes this bill because, in actuality, it runs counter to the Constitutional principles underlying our patent system — namely, a strong, private property right in one’s inventions.
The Founders established patents in the Constitution as a private property right for inventors. This property interest benefits the nation economically through the “promot[ion] of science and useful arts.” This bill will weaken American patents, patent rights, and the ability of innovators — particularly independent inventors — to secure their constitutionally guaranteed private property right in their discoveries.
Inventors are supposed to enjoy the “exclusive right” to their intellectual property for a period of time. H.R. 3309 would counter this Constitutional vision for patent rights by making patent litigation more common, more protracted, and more expensive for inventors.
Proponents want to call this “litigation reform,” but really, this bill tilts the judicial process in favor of infringers and big business but against patent owners. Eagle Forum sympathizes with small businesses that receive demand letters from what are called “patent trolls” and we are open to addressing this practice in a narrow, targeted manner. However, H.R. 3309 goes well beyond addressing the grievances of such small business end users and will diminish property rights and weaken U.S. patents.
More than the substantive issues, we are concerned with the way this bill is being rushed through the House. The Judiciary Committee held a single hearing just two weeks after the bill’s introduction and marked up the bill three weeks later. Soon after, there was a bipartisan appeal by concerned committee members requesting a second hearing, featuring independent inventors, venture capitalists, R&D shops, IP-based small businesses, judges, non-practicing entities that play a vital role in technology transfer such as universities, and victims of foreign IP theft, but it was ignored.
Now, just three weeks after markup (one week being Thanksgiving recess), the House is voting on this vast and complicated bill. This process is unbecoming of a great American legislative body.
This bill is an excellent way to disincentivize creativity, innovation, new inventions, and future companies. It would foster new intellectual thieves who will trample over patent-holders and would-be job creators.
H.R. 3309 does not meet the standard set forth in Article I Section 8 Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution that secures to inventors "the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." This bill will diminish private enterprise, individual liberty, and family integrity, which relies on well-paying jobs and economic growth spurred by the discoveries of innovators.
The innovative and ingenious spirit of individuals is foundational to what has made America great. This spirit should be incentivized and esteemed — not stifled. Stopping intellectual property burglars and patent-trolls is essential, but not if we are also trampling the rights of intellectual property owners and great creative minds. This bill falls short of the Constitutional guarantee of the property rights of inventors and is bad for independent inventors, jobs, families, and the American economy. We must stop it!