So-Called "Innovation Act" Will Stifle Innovation

Proposed Bill Punishes Inventors and Will Have a Chilling Effect on Innovation

American Innovators for Patent Reform (AIPR), a trade association for the innovation community, is strongly opposed to the proposed Innovation Act (H.R. 9) that was re-introduced by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee chair, Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), and Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ann Eshoo (D-CA). AIPR believes this bill is anti-inventor, anti-competitive and anti-innovation.

The proposed fee-shifting clause - the centerpiece of this legislation - is intended to squeeze independent inventors and small businesses out of the patent system. This legislation, if enacted, will weaken U.S. Patents and ultimately make America less competitive. In a misguided attempt to address some abuses of the patent system, this bill throws out the proverbial baby with the bath water.

AIPR represents the innovation community - inventors, small and start-up businesses, R&D companies, universities and research labs, patent practitioners and other stakeholders - and supports strong U.S. Patents - the bedrock of American innovation. The reality is that the Innovation Act has nothing to do with "innovation," and the bill is an attempt by a small number of large corporations to make it more expensive and riskier for inventors, small businesses, universities and other small patentees to enforce their intellectual property rights. This is yet another special-interest bill written by corporate lobbyists for the benefit of a few large corporations.

The proposed bill implements the European "loser pays all" principle in patent litigation. This is clearly unnecessary, since Section 285 of the U.S. Patent Code provides for attorney fees in exceptional cases, giving federal judges the authority to impose sanctions and legal fees in exceptional cases. The recent Supreme Court decision in Octane Fitness lowered the threshold for finding an exceptional case, and Octane motions are now filed routinely by winning parties. Rule 11 sanctions are also applied against those involved in patent litigation abuse. New fee-shifting legislation would only serve to intimidate inventors and small patent holders, which is exactly the intent of this bill and its corporate sponsors.

"Fee shifting flies in the face of the American judicial philosophy of equal access to justice for all," says Dr. Alexander Poltorak, founder and President of AIPR. "It creates a strong deterrent for inventors and small patent holders to enforce their IP rights - and creates a get-out-of-jail card for corporate infringers."

"There are a small number of bad actors that abuse the patent system, but there are far more practical ways to deal with them than weakening the entire U.S. Patent system," suggests Alec Schibanoff, Executive Director of AIPR. "This bill will diminish the value of patents and weaken intellectual property rights. We encourage all of those concerned with American innovation and our global competitiveness to contact their Representative and Senators, and encourage them to vote NO when the Innovation Act comes up for a vote."

A link to contact your U.S. Representatives and Senators is www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup.