Senate leaders today received a letter bearing the names of more than 430 organizations and companies united in opposition to the Patent Reform Act of 2007 as currently written. Spanning a vast range of industries and including every size of entity from startups to the nation's largest corporations, the signatories are based in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Sean Murdock, Executive Director of the NanoBusiness Alliance, expressed his concerns about the bill. "The American economy is a knowledge-based economy and American jobs depend upon continuous innovation. Patent reform should strengthen, not weaken, protection for intellectual property and incentives for innovation. That's why nanotech companies have joined with others from a wide variety of industries including high-tech, financial services, manufacturing, med-tech, green-tech, and pharmaceuticals to express opposition to this bill as drafted."
His concerns were shared by others who endorsed the letter, including William Jones, Chairman of Cummins-Allison Corporation, "Core provisions of the Patent Reform Act imperil the ability of U.S. businesses -- large and small -- to create jobs and protect fundable innovation in every sector of the economy. Any argument that patent reform is a debate between a few special interests has been washed away by the 430+ signatories of this letter. When opposition to a bill is so broad-based that it unites the range of American innovation from large manufacturers to small technology startups across all 50 states and DC, you know that the bill has tremendous capacity to damage the entire American economy."
The letter is signed by innovation leaders from every U.S. state and the District of Columbia in fields as far ranging as agriculture; alternative energy; biotechnology; chemicals; computer hardware, software, networking; cosmetics; entertainment; financial services; food/beverage; health care; heavy industry; life sciences; manufacturing; medical devices; material science; nanotechnology; optics; security; semiconductors; space systems; startup incubation; telecommunications, venture capital and Web-based businesses.
The letter unequivocally states that the bill as passed by the House and under consideration by the Senate "contains provisions that will create uncertainty and weaken the enforceability of validly issued patents."
Opposition to weakening patent protection has continued from prior Congresses to the current one. Among many others, Dean Kamen, President of DEKA Research and inventor of the Segway human transporter, testified against a similar bill in 2005 and 2006. Since introduction of the Patent Reform Act of 2007, opposition has stepped up dramatically. Dozens of executives have traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with lawmakers and personally express the concerns reflected in this letter. Earlier this month, the Innovation Alliance sponsored a Congressional briefing in which Jones, Kamen, Steve Perlman, CEO of Silicon Valley-based startup incubator Rearden and a former executive at Microsoft and principal scientist at Apple, and Richard Faubert, President and CEO of AmberWave Systems expressed their opposition to the bill in its current form. More briefings are planned in the coming weeks.
"If we want to improve the patent system, let's first make sure our changes do no harm, and then craft solutions that advance the interests of all businesses and industries, not just a few," Bryan Lord of the Innovation Alliance and Vice President of AmberWave Systems concluded. "The US patent system has been dramatically altered in the last several months by major Supreme Court decisions and new patent rules. Enacting a radical patent system overhaul before there has been time to understand the full impact of changes already made would be irresponsible and risky. America, backed by a strong patent system, leads the world in innovation. Even in the wake of globalization, this has kept the US at the head of the economic food chain. As this letter shows, large sectors of the American economy have significant concerns with this bill -- concerns that need to be addressed if America is to remain the leader in innovation."
The Innovation Alliance is a coalition of entrepreneurial companies seeking to enhance America's innovation environment by improving the quality of patents granted and protecting the integrity of the U.S. patent system. To learn more, visit http://www.innovationalliance.net/.