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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2021, Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1249, America Invents Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SCHIFF. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to raise my concerns about H.R. 1249 and the rule and in particular the manager's amendment.

America's uniquely innovative culture is the source of our economic strength, and I have long supported fundamental reforms to our patent system that would reduce the patent backlog, increase the quality of patents, and ensure that the patent system is not abused in ways that threaten innovation.

One of the best things in the bill up until now has been a provision to attack the backlog by devoting all of the fees gathered in the patent process to the Patent Office. We are asking the stakeholders of invention to pay higher fees to reduce the backlog. How can we ask them to do that if we are going to divert the fees they pay to paying general government expenses?

The provision in the underlying bill would have ended that practice, would have ended fee diversion, a diversion that has cost the invention community and our economy over a billion dollars in diverted funds. Unfortunately, the manager's amendment would severely undercut and really do away with that principle. I know as an appropriator I'm not supposed to be saying this. As a former member of the Judiciary Committee, however, I am, and that is, we should not be diverting these fees. We should not be diverting fees that need to be used to take down that backlog, to make sure that inventors can quickly patent their products and take them to market. This is part of our competitive economic advantage.

And so I was very enthusiastic about that part of the bill. Concerned about others, concerned about moving to first-to-file, which I will talk about later, but now I am doubly concerned because I think the most constructive part of the bill has been seriously diminished.

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Mr. SCHIFF. I thank the gentleman.

The only concluding point I want to make is the funds that are held in the escrow account, if the Congress subsequently decides because of budgetary problems they have a better use for those funds, they want to be used for something else, to pay down something else, there's nothing that precludes the Congress from reallocating those funds. The patent community, the inventor community, still has to come hat in hand to the Appropriations Committee and say, Please give us the money you put in escrow.

There's no need to set up this account if we simply take this step in the underlying bill which would end diversion once and for all.

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