Controversy in Patent Reform Bill

The Patent Reform bill that sailed through the Senate will be on the House floor next week according to The Hill.  The version considered by the House is a different version than the Senate passed legislation.

The bill, H.R. 1249, would move the U.S. closer to the “first-to-file” patent system used by most of the rest of the developed world, but not all the way there. Congress has worked for years to harmonize its patent system with that of other countries that award patents to those who file for them earliest. In contrast, the U.S. system relies on a determination of who invented the new good or process, and awards patents to those inventors. The U.S. system can lead to expensive disputes over who invented a good or process first.

Most expect this legislation to end up in a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate version of the legislation.

One emerging objection to the House version of the bill is Section 18 of the bill that creates a special procedures exclusive to big banks, Wall Street firms and financial services firms that give them undue power to invalidate legitimate patents. This provision was inserted by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and will reward his buddies who have already benefited from TARP on Wall Street. Tea Party champion and freshman Representative from Florida Allen West is leading the effort to remove Section 18 from the bill.

Some call Section 18 an unconstitutional give away to the wealthy corporate interests and big banks represented by the fat cat lobbyists on K Street.  The average inventor may be harmed by this provision.  Patent Reform has proven to be a target for banks and other interests to load up this bill with special interest provisions. 

Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) objects to another provision in the bill that moves the Patent and Trademark office spending off-budget.  The Patent and Trademark Office will ignore members of Congress if they are allowed to raise revenues on their own to fund programs.  Look no further than the Federal Reserve to find another government organization that ignores the will of Congress because they don’t have to rely on Congress for discretionary funding.

Some in the House Republican Leaderhsip want this bill moved before Independence Day.  Tea party activists need to step up to the plate and fight to preserve the independence won by those who dumped tea in the Boston Harbor two hundred plus years ago.  Patent reform should not be an opportunity for corporate interests to game the system against the little guy.