H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act, passed the House today with bipartisan support. The Senate passed its version of the bill (S. 23) on March 8th by a vote of 95 to 5.
Representative Mike Michaud (D-ME) voted in favor of the bill saying:
“We need to make it easier for companies to innovate and make things here at home, and this bill does that,” said Michaud. “Although I was disappointed that the bill did not improve the funding structure for the Patent and Trademark Office, I am pleased that provisions were added to make it better for U.S. manufacturing. This bill shows how effective Congress can be when both sides of the aisle work together. I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion with my colleagues to further advance U.S. manufacturing and see this bill through the conference process with the Senate.”
Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL) voted against the bill after proposing two amendments to a) totally transform the bill by simplifying it with a plan focused solely on reducing the huge backlog in patent applications, and b) eliminate one section of the bill that gives the Patent & Trademark Office the ability to set its own fees. Both amendments failed.
“This bill would weaken our strong patent system that has protected American entrepreneurs for centuries from overseas companies trying to pirate their inventions,” Manzullo said. “Any patent reform we undertake should focus on reducing the backlog in patent applications, not dramatically altering the system and giving multinational corporations advantages over American innovators. The last thing we should be doing right now is giving foreign companies an even greater opportunity to take our ideas and our jobs.”
Manzullo also believes the bill is unconstitutional (earlier this month, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that patent rights belong to the inventor) and unnecessarily adds a new post-grant review provision that will further delay and add further litigation to the patent approval process.
The Innovation Alliance voiced its disappointment that the House of Representatives approved legislation that will not end permanently the diversion of user fees from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):
“Along with many other patent stakeholders across a range of sectors and business models, we believe that the anti-fee diversion provisions approved by an overwhelming vote of 95-5 in the U.S. Senate and a 32-3 vote in the House Judiciary Committee offer the USPTO the reliability and structure it needs to reduce today’s significant backlog of 700,000 patent applications. Reducing the patent backlog and strengthening the USPTO is essential for driving innovation, job creation, and economic growth.”