Manzullo Gains Support for Patent Amendments

A press release from Congressman Don Manzullo:

Small Business Groups Endorse Pro-Jobs Amendment Manzullo Co-Authored to Patent Bill

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives, six organizations representing

  • small businesses,
  • start-up entrepreneurs,
  • independent inventors, and
  • technical professionals

urged lawmakers to adopt an amendment to the House patent bill that will stop the diversion of patent user fee revenue to other governmental uses.

Don Manzullo at a congressional committee hearing.

The amendment is co-authored by U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), and Don Manzullo (R-IL). The letter in its entirety including attachments is available online here.

Backing the effort is IP Advocate, a non-profit organization that educates and empowers faculty researchers on patent rights and the process of commercialization.
The organizations also include

  • National Congress of Inventor Organizations
  • National Small Business Association
  • National Association of Patent Practitioners and
  • the Professional Inventors Alliance USA.

The organizations’ letter said that by removing most sections of the House bill H.R. 1249, the amendment would eliminate many harmful provisions in the bill that, if enacted, would cause innovation disruption and create legal uncertainty for years to come.

The organizations, which previously expressed similar concerns during the Senate deliberation on the patent bill, said that permitting the Patent Office to retain its fees subject to Congressional oversight will allow the agency to

  • hire more examiners
  • reform its internal procedures and
  • modernize its information technology infrastructure to reduce the massive backlog of pending patent applications and improve the quality of examination.

The Conyers/Sensenbrenner/Manzullo Amendment removes sections of the bill to which these organizations object, thereby

  • preserving the American grace period and the first-to-invent priority system;
  • ensuring that patents are awarded only to inventors;
  • eliminating prior user rights;
  • ensuring that post grant proceedings are fairer and less likely to be abused; and
  • ensuring that setting Patent Office fees remains Congress’ prerogative, which the letter said would “enhance accountability and transparency.”

The letter exposes what the organizations call a “major legal flaw” in the current bill, which, if left in place, would result in much uncertain patent rights and thousands of “false patents” being granted – not to the first-inventor-to-file – but to applicants who filed later.

This result is in direct contradiction to the bill’s stated purpose of awarding patents only to the first-inventor-to-file.

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