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Public Statements

American Invents Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SCHIFF. Madam Chair, I find myself in reluctant opposition to my colleague from Texas in support of the Sensenbrenner amendment. Section 3 shifts our patent system from the unique first-to-invent system to a first-to-file system.

As I speak to inventors, startups, venture capitalists and angel investors in California, I'm convinced that the proposed transition to first-to-file would be harmful to innovation and burdensome to the most dynamic and innovative sector of our economy.

With the shift to first-to-file, the rush to the Patent Office will lead to new costs for small businesses as they prepare applications for inventions that they may ultimately find impractical. For small startups, the cost of retaining outside counsel for this purpose will be a drain on their limited resources and mean less money for hiring and the actual act of innovation.

Supporters of first-to-file argue inventors can turn to provisional applications to protect their patent rights. But from talking to small inventors, I have learned that good provisional applications require substantial legal fees and time investment on the part of the inventor to make them sufficiently detailed to be of use.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. SENSENBRENNER. I yield the gentleman an additional 15 seconds.

Mr. SCHIFF. I appreciate the hard work that has gone into the bill by the gentleman from Texas. However, I remain deeply concerned that the shift to first-to-file will have lasting negative consequences for small investors, and I urge the House to improve the bill by adopting the Sensenbrenner amendment.

Madam Chair, following is my statement in its entirety: I rise in support of the Sensenbrenner amendment to strike Section 3 of the underlying legislation. Section 3 shifts our patent system from our unique First to Invent system to a First to File system. As I speak to inventors, startups, venture capitalists and angel investors in California, I am convinced that the proposed transition to First to File would be harmful to innovation and burdensome to the most dynamic and innovative sector of our economy.

With the shift to First to File, the rush to the patent office will lead to new costs for small businesses as they prepare applications for inventions that they ultimately find impractical. The result will be more and lower quality patent applications, undermining the improved patent quality H.R. 1249 seeks to achieve. For small startups, the costs of retaining outside counsel for this purpose will be a drain on their limited resources, and it will mean less money for hiring and the actual act of invention.

Supporters of First to File argue that it will increase certainty in the patent process, but I am skeptical that any such gains in efficiency will result. The interference proceedings at the PTO that are used to resovle disputes regarding patent rights are rare, representing only a tiny fraction of patent filings. Moreover, there is an established, century old body of law on FIrst to Invent. It will take years, if not decades, for similar clarity to develop on a First to File.

Supporters of First to File argue that inventors can turn to provisional applications to protect their patent rights. That sounds good in theory, but from talking to small inventors I have learned that good provisional applications require substantial legal fees and time investment on the part of the inventor to make them sufficiently detailed to be of any use should another entity file a similar patent application.

Madam Chair, I appreciate the hard work that has gone into this bill and the leadership of the gentleman from Texas. However, I remain deeply concerned that the shift to First to File will have lasting negative consequences for small inventors, and I urge the House to improve the bill by adopting the Sensenbrenner amendment.

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