Arguing that Sen. Patrick Leahy's patent reform legislation favors multinational companies, foreign firms and market incumbents, several small business associations have joined conservative groups in opposing the bill, according to a letter obtained by Tech Daily Dose.
Leahy's Patent Reform Act of 2011 is scheduled for consideration in the Senate Monday, and the legislation has sailed through the process so far. But several of the most controversial amendments to the bill were not debated or voted upon in committee and several vocal groups have called for a more streamlined bill. This latest criticism may signal a stiff fight over the specific provisions of the proposal.
Tech Daily Dose obtained a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the rest of the Senate Wednesday, in which groups such as the National Small Business Association, American Innovators for Patent Reform, and the California-based CONNECT coalition call on the Senate to scuttle Leahy's plan in favor of a more basic bill that would just address funding issues at the Patent and Trademark Office.
"We urge Congress to shift its attention away from the broad and technically difficult S. 23, and instead pass a streamlined, targeted bill that focuses only on long-term PTO funding," the letter reads. "Furthermore, both chambers of Congress should renew their oversight of PTO operations, to ensure that new funding is properly administered, and that PTO addresses its operational challenges."
The letter is also signed by the U.S. Business and Industry Council, which joined other conservative organizations such as Eagle Forum in sending a letter to Congress on Feb. 1 opposing the bill.
In Wednesday's missive, the groups specifically criticize Leahy's proposal to change the "first-to-file" provision, as well as the post-grant review process. The letter says the bill "changes the rules to favor global companies," which disadvantages American companies.
"America's patent system has always focused on the needs of inventors, not bureaucracies. For 200 years, it has demonstrated its singular ability to foster and grow the country's small-business inventors, to help America achieve its status as the global leader in technological innovation and job creation," the groups argue. "Changing U.S. patent law to be like the less-successful patent systems of Europe and Asia cannot be regarded as positive 'reform'."
Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called his bill a "commonsense, bipartisan" approach and insists it will help stimulate the economy.
"In his State of the Union address, President Obama challenged the nation to out-innovate, out-build and out-educate," Leahy said in a statement last week. "Enacting the Patent Reform Act is a key to meeting this challenge. Reforming the nation's antiquated patent system will promote American innovation, create American jobs, and grow America's economy."