For more than 200 years, the United States patent system has empowered inventors, entrepreneurs, startups, and universities to lead the world in innovation and economic prosperity. This is because our nation's patent system incentivizes inventors and small companies with big ideas 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 the inventor takes a risk and creates a successful product or technology, they can protect that idea and be rewarded for it. This 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, the incentive and assurance the U.S. patent system provides is under attack. Many large, incumbent corporations see patents as an inconvenience, and a barrier to their ability to strengthen their dominance in the market. We've seen court decisions create uncertainty for the patent system, and the U.S. Congress consider legislation that would tilt the playing field unalterably towards large incumbents. Startups, and the ideas and investments that drive them, have been largely ignored.

It is time to return to first principles and strengthen the patent system for those it was intended to serve. We do not condone abusive litigation practices and want our system to only grant high quality patents. But the pendulum has swung too far. Inventing and commercializing truly news and important technologies is extremely difficult, and it is very capital-intensive. Failures abound and breakthroughs are rare. When they do occur, a strong patent system is essential to provide the pathway to capital and the operating space necessary to make them economically viable. 

Not all companies are the same. As they've said publicly, many incumbent technology companies would rather do without an effective patent system while they thrive on integrating the inventions of others. But the original inventors, those who truly create new things, as well as those who fund and nurture them, depend on strong and enforceable patents.

USIJ, working along with a wide variety of like-minded groups and companies, has already successfully fended off federal legislation that would have had a devastating effect on U.S. startups. Now we are committed to working with leaders in Washington on a set of solutions to strengthen our patent system and address abuses in a way that does not harm American innovation leadership or threaten our place as the most inventive, creative and dynamic economy in the world.