Last week patent reform legislation took yet another step forward as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Patent Reform Act of 2007. The bill had strong bipartisan support. Our Bay Area Congressional delegation led the way. Here are their own words– Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco correctly tied patent reform to our nation’s ability to innovate:”The bipartisan patent reform bill is a significant step toward our Innovation Agenda. It will strengthen the patent system and improve patent quality. This legislation is crucial for American inventors and American ingenuity, for consumers, and for greater innovation and economic growth.”Representative Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, one of the principal architects of the legislation, noted how the long legislative process had forged a quality, balanced product:”I believe this bill strikes the right balance between the need for strong patent rights and the encouragement of innovation.”Representative Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto was clear on what this meant for our economy:”œPatents and intellectual property are the cornerstone of the Information Economy. That’s why it’s essential that the U.S. patent system continues to foster ideas and innovation which fuel our economy and keeps America competitive.”And support for patent reform goes beyond high tech companies and the Bay Area Congressional delegation. Below are just a few examples of how the patent system effects America. Agriculture Groups”œWhen people think of patent issues they predominantly think it is a high-tech and pharmaceutical issue, but they fail to realize that abuse of the patent system affects a much broader audience. The farm community is genuinely concerned about this issue and looks to you for leadership to reform an outdated system that has a devastating affect on rural America.”
Letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, April 24, 2007, from the American Agricultural Movement, American Corn Growers Association, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Organization, Rural Coalition
Consumer Groups“œNumerous flaws have emerged within the current patent system that can foster poor quality patents and invite uncertainty that inflates the risk and cost of litigation, especially in the areas of software and online services. As a result, innocent innovators may face unwarranted threats of liability and spend valuable resources on unnecessary litigation and licensing instead of on innovation. The poor quality of these issued patents also discourages follow-on innovation and distorts competition, which ultimately harms consumers and the general public.”
Letter to Congressman John Conyers, August 31, 2007, from Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Knowledge Ecology International, Public Knowledge, United States Public Interest Research Group
Over 100 companies and organizations, including Cisco, have banded together to form the Coalition for Patent Fairness. This coalition represents large and small companies from a diverse set of industries, including computer hardware and software, financial services, entertainment, communications, manufacturing, and energy. The Coalition’s goal is to pass meaningful, balanced patent reform. For more info on the coalition and its members go to www.patetnfairness.orgWe are now on to the Senate to finish this process to restore balance to the patent system that will maximize our nation’s ability to innovation.