Petition to Protect Independent Inventors

Edison Nation feels strongly that The House of Representatives rushed into passing the “Innovation Act” (H.R. 3309). It was quickly pushed through the House with the aid of huge corporations with deep pockets, all without taking into account the voices of many, including independent inventors.

The previous patent-related legislation, the America Invents Act, took six years of deliberation in Congress as they heard all sides of the story before it became law. This latest legislation breezed through the House in just five weeks and now it’s set to go before the Senate.

Our goal is to make sure that Congress takes the time necessary to fairly hear from everybody this law would affect, especially independent inventors.

Please read the following letter and petition. If you agree with it, please digitally sign it below and tell your friends, family and colleagues to consider doing the same.

By signing the petition below, we will send a copy of the letter, on your behalf, to both Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley. If you would like us to include a copy to your state senators, simply keep the relevant checkbox checked. If you would like Congress to consider hearing your voice during the proposed official hearings, leave that box checked as well.

Together, we can make a difference as independent inventors!

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Chuck Grassley
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley,

On behalf of the independent inventor community, a community whose discoveries have collectively added billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, we are writing to express our alarm at the current rush toward patent legislation that could cripple invention in America.

We applaud the desire to curb nuisance lawsuits and bad-faith demand letters by shake-down artists who claim their patents have been infringed. But the proposals now moving through Congress would go much further than that. They would gravely undermine the ability of legitimate inventors to defend their work from willful and sometimes brazen infringers – especially if they are deep-pocketed corporations.

The House-passed Innovation Act (H.R. 3309) would raise these barriers to justice even higher than they already are. Among the changes:

  • Alleged infringers would be able to delay proceedings for years by demanding that the Patent Office re-examine the validity of an issued patent two, three or even more times.
  • Judges would have to make crucial decisions about the meaning of a patent claim before the opposing sides have collected factual evidence through the discovery process.
  • Inventors who file lawsuits would be required to pay the other side’s attorney fees if they lose, significantly raising the stakes for those that can least afford it.

These major reforms come only three years after Congress passed the America Invents Act, a piece of legislation resulting from six years of deliberation considering input from stakeholders on all sides. The headlong rush today is strikingly different. The House passed H.R. 3309 just five weeks after it was introduced. The bill received only one hearing, and independent inventors were not invited to testify.

At this point, we don’t even have reliable data on the magnitude of the problem. The Government Accountability Office estimated last year that the volume of litigation has actually increased very little, and that most of the new litigation comes from manufacturing companies themselves.

For independent inventors like us, simply getting a case to trial can be a bankrupting and emotionally grueling experience. Many cannot afford to even try. Unfortunately, the Innovation Act provides alleged infringers even more opportunities to delay and obstruct, and as a result even fewer inventors will have the financial wherewithal to stand up for rights that the Founding Fathers enshrined in the Constitution.

This will be devastating to the American economy as independent inventors and path-breaking entrepreneurs account for a huge share of the nation’s innovation, which in turn is the engine of our growth and prosperity. The Commerce Department estimates that intellectual property-based companies support 40 million U.S. jobs and $5 trillion in annual economic activity. If inventors can’t defend our intellectual property, how can we afford to risk the time and money to develop new technology?

The patent system isn’t perfect, but it has made a huge contribution to this nation’s prosperity and quality of life over the past two centuries. We should certainly deter bad actors who try to game the legal system with patent claims that shouldn’t hold up in court. But Congress would be making a tragic mistake if it acted without listening to real inventors and passed legislation punishing all patent holders for the bad behavior of a few. If American innovation stagnates, the impact will be felt for generations to come.

Before you act, we urge you to hold a hearing to understand the concerns of independent inventors.

We look forward to working with you on this important issue.


Signed,

By signing this petition, I am requesting that a copy of this letter be forwarded on my behalf to Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley.

Together, we can make a difference. Please help spread the word about this petition on Twitter and Facebook!