Letter Supporting H.R. 1249, the "America Invents Act"
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, supports H.R. 1249, the “America Invents Act,” which would encourage innovation and bolster the U.S. economy. The Chamber believes this legislation is crucial for American economic growth, jobs, and the future of U.S. competitiveness.
A key component of H.R. 1249 is section 22, which would ensure that fees collected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) fund the office and its administration of the patent system. PTO faces significant challenges, including a massive backlog of pending applications, and this backlog is stifling domestic innovators. The fees that PTO collects to review and approve patent application are supposed to be dedicated to PTO operation. However, fee diversion by Congress has hampered PTO’s efforts to hire and retain a sufficient number of qualified examiners and implement technological improvements necessary to ensure expeditious issuance of high quality patents. Providing PTO with full access to the user fees it collects is an important first step toward reducing the current backlog of 1.2 million applications waiting for a final determination and pendency time of 3 years, as well as to improve patent quality.
In addition, the legislation would help ensure that the U.S. remains at the forefront of innovation by enhancing the PTO process and ensuring that all inventors secure the exclusive right to their inventions and discoveries. The bill shifts the U.S. to a first-inventor-to-file system that we believe is both constitutional and wise, ending expensive interference proceedings. H.R. 1249 also contains important legal reforms that would help reduce unnecessary litigation against American businesses and innovators. Among the bill’s provisions, Section 16 would put an end to frivolous false patent marking cases, while still preserving the right of those who suffered actual harm to bring actions. Section 5 would create a prior user right for those who first commercially use inventions, protecting the rights of early inventors and giving manufacturers a powerful incentive to build new factories in the United States, while at the same time fully protecting universities. Section 19 also restricts joinder of defendants who have tenuous connections to the underlying disputes in patent infringement suits. Section 18 of H.R. 1249 provides for a tailored pilot program which would allow patent office experts to help the court review the validity of certain business method patents using the best available prior art as an alternative to costly litigation.
The Chamber strongly opposes any amendments to H.R. 1249 that would strike or weaken any of the important legal reform measures in this legislation, including those found in Sections 16, 5, 19 and 18. The Chamber supports H.R. 1249 and urges the House to expeditiously approve this necessary legislation.
R. Bruce Josten