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Public Statements

American Invents Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ROHRABACHER. Let's just note that Ms. Lofgren last night presented a case to this body which I felt demonstrated the danger that we have in this law. A move to first-to-file system, which is what this bill would do, without a corresponding 1-year grace period in other countries dramatically undermines the patent protection of American inventors. Some of us believe that's the purpose of this bill because they want to harmonize American law with the weak systems overseas.

Well, without this amendment that we are talking about right now, without the Conyers-Rohrabacher amendment, if an inventor discloses his discoveries, perhaps to potential investors, his right to patent protection is essentially gone. It's not gone from just Americans. Yes, he would be protected under American law; but from all those people in foreign countries without a similar grace period to what we have here in our system, these people are not restricted. Thus, they could, once an American inventor discloses it, at any time they can go and file a patent and steal our inventors' discoveries.

The only way for American inventors to benefit from a grace period here, which this bill is all about, is to ensure that foreign countries adopt the same grace period. And that's what this amendment would do. It would say our bill, which will make our inventors vulnerable to foreign theft, will not go into place until those foreign countries have put in place a similar grace period, which then would prevent them and their citizens from coming in and stealing our technology. Ms. Lofgren detailed last night in great detail how that would work.

I call this bill basically the Unilateral Disclosure Act, if not the Patent Rip-Off Act, because we are disclosing to the world what we've got. And our people can't follow up on it because there's a grace period here, but overseas they don't have that same grace period. So what we're saying is, to prevent foreigners from stealing American technology, this will not go into effect until the President has issued a statement verifying that the other countries of the world have a similar grace period so they can't just at will rip off America's greatest entrepreneurs and inventors.

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Mr. ROHRABACHER. In this debate, Madam Chairman, we have heard over and over and over again about the gridlock at the Patent Office, which is supposedly what we're trying to correct with this legislation, H.R. 1249, which I have been contending is not designed to help the Patent Office, but to harmonize American law with the rest of the world and make it weaker patent protection for our people.

But what does it do about the backlog, if that's really what people are concerned about? H.R. 1249 would actually tremendously add to the PTO backlog by requiring further post-grant review proceedings at the Patent Office, proceedings which would consume even more limited personnel and money. Added procedures add to the gridlock at the PTO, at the Patent Office, and it will also do what? It will break the back of small inventors and startup companies who are trying to get a new product on the market.

It will empower the multinational and foreign corporations who can grind down the little guy, because what we are doing in this bill is adding even further procedures they have to go through, even after they have got their patent issued to them.

This is the big guy versus little guy legislation. That was even pointed out by the Hoover Institution, which did an analysis of this bill and said, ``The American Invents Act will protect large entrenched companies at the expense of market challenging competitors.''

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This is a travesty. It is an attack on American well-being, because we depend on our small inventors to come up with the ideas. The Kaptur-Rohrabacher amendment limits this new burden. If we can't get rid of it, at least we can limit this new burden of all these post-grant reviews they are going to add to companies that have more than 100 employees. It frees up the Patent Office personnel to do their job, helps with that gridlock, and protects the small business man and small inventors at the same time.

I would ask my colleagues to support the Kaptur-Rohrabacher amendment.

I yield such time as she may consume to the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur).

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Mr. ROHRABACHER. Let me just note, our amendment empowers the Director of the Patent Office to extend this 100-employee standard to other small businesses and individual inventors overseas if this is required by a treaty; yes, small businesses and individual inventors overseas. So our amendment does nothing to violate any treaty obligations by giving our own people special rights over foreign individuals.

What it does do, however, is prevent foreign corporations from grinding down our inventors here, like they grind down their inventors overseas. This is what we are doing to prevent a harmonization of our laws, because we don't want weaker patent protection for our people. They already got it overseas against their foreign corporations that grind them down. We want to protect our own people.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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