Mom’s apple pie is an important symbol of America.What is more American than mom’s apple pie? It’s the technology that made it possible for mom to make it and bake it with ease.
It’s not the apple pie that is in the gun sites of this Congress; it is the symbol of what has made America, America – good old American ingenuity. It is that ingenuity that made the United States an industrial world power.
The United States has led the world in technology because our Founding Fathers laid the groundwork for a patent system that protects the ideas of individual inventors from thief and exploitation as rigorously as the Constitution protects private property.
Congress pulled the rug out from under our manufacturing base. Now, it wants to pull the rug out from under the nation’s inventors as well. It is these inventors that have made it possible for small to medium size companies in the United States to exist in a world dominated by a handful of international global giants.
Without an outpouring of good old-fashioned American outrage, tomorrow the House of Representatives will pass a bill that will undermine that patent system under the guise of “harmonizing our patent laws with those in the rest of the world.” This makes about as much sense as “harmonizing” our human rights laws with the rest of the world!
Why would we want to go backward?
The simple answer is greed: the greed of multinational corporations and the greed of congressmen who want the money from these corporations for their re-election campaigns.
What’s the hurry? Congressional leaders know they must pass this bill before you get wise.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who is the leader of a small bipartisan opposition, compared H.R. 1908 and S.1145, “The Patent Reform Act,” to the so-called comprehensive immigration reform bill that went down to defeat earlier this summer due to voter outrage. Rohrabacher says,
If you call something a ‘reform,’ it implies that it will fix something that is broken. Both bills are shams!
Until 1999, an inventor who filed a patent was assured that his or her application would be kept secret until the patent was granted or denied. Under the guise of “reform,” a Republican-led Congress attempted to undermine our system by requiring that patent applications be published on the Internet, for all the world to see, 18 months after they are filed. Presently, it takes an average of 31 months for a patent to be approved.
The safeguard now in place is that an inventor can “opt-out” of having his or her application published by filing “only” in the United States and not in another country where it can be ripped off. The current bill would eliminate the opt-out provision.
Another important provision of our patent system is that it operates under a “first to invent” principle while most of the world operates on a “first to file” principle. If evidence exists that you were the first to come up with an idea, it is difficult to raid even if every detail was not covered by the original application.
An invention is made up of many parts. Often it takes multiple filings to protect that idea. The “first to file” principle makes it easy for a large corporation to raid an invention. All it has to do is turn a battery of engineers and lawyers loose to look for small details not covered by the original application. Also, this bill would make it possible for a big corporation to challenge a patent application for the entire life of the patent, which can exhaust the resources of the inventor.
Rohrabacher says that H.R. 1908 and S.1145 are driven by the electronics industry. Companies like Microsoft, Cisco System and IBM don’t want to have to deal with small inventors who could make one of their billion dollar products obsolete.
Now, we have a Democrat-led Congress trying to finish a job begun by a Republican-led Congress: the dismantling of the American patent system.
Rohrabacher and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, are attempting to stop this bill, but they can’t do it alone. They must have your help, and it must come in the form of phone calls to Congress in the next 24 hours. Rohrabacher and Kaptur share a deep belief that intellectual property is every bit as important as personal property, and it must be protected at all costs.
It’s an idea that is as American as mom’s apple pie.