The U.S. patent system is the foundation for the most innovative and dynamic economy in the world. For more than 200 years, this system has empowered inventors, entrepreneurs, startups, and universities to lead the world in innovation and economic prosperity. This is because our patent system incentivizes inventors and small companies to take risks on unproven new technologies that often change the world.
The incentive is crucial. A strong patent system provides the assurance that if an inventor takes a risk and creates a successful product or technology, they can protect that idea and be rewarded for it. The assurance is also crucial. It provides a sound foothold to begin competing in the marketplace and ensures larger companies and foreign competitors cannot simply take the inventor's product or technology and drive them out of the market.
Unfortunately, these incentives and assurances are under attack. In 2011, the America Invents Act (AIA) ushered in the most significant changes to U.S. patent law since 1952. This legislation was developed and passed with the promise that it would harmonize U.S. patent law with that of other industrial countries and eliminate many of the costly and non-productive aspects of the patent system as it was then being implemented by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the courts. While well-intentioned, many of the promises of the AIA remain unrealized.
Furthermore, the law's implementation has threatened the U.S. patent system by unduly stripping patent owners of their property rights and subjecting them to abusive and frivolous litigation. For instance, many large, incumbent corporations, who view patents as an inconvenience and a barrier to their ability to strengthen their dominance in the market, have weaponized the inter partes review (IPR) proceedings at USPTO to keep competitors out of the marketplace. These practices stifle innovation, because the original inventors, those who truly create new things, as well as those who fund and nurture them, depend on strong and enforceable patents.
It is time to return to first principles and strengthen the patent system for those it was intended to serve. USIJ is committed to working with leaders in Washington to strengthen our patent system and bring much-needed certainty to patent owners. We encourage Congress to advance the STRONGER Patents Act (S. 1390/H.R. 5340) to promote this innovation-first agenda. This timely legislation would promote economic growth and innovation by protecting the property rights of patent owners, strengthening the process for getting rid of bad patents, and reducing abusive and frivolous litigation.