Earlier this week, President Obama signed into law a bill authored by Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) and West Virginia Congressman Alan Mollohan (D-1st District) designed to reduce the backlog of patent applications.
Murphy's patent bill will help bring new inventions to market and create jobs by ensuring the U.S. Patent and Trade Office has the resources they need to hire an adequate number of patent examiners, install up-to-date information technology and make other operational changes necessary to tackle this backlog.
In remarks on the House floor, Murphy noted that over a million patent applications are currently gathering dust in an office building just outside Washington D.C. Those applications could hold the next iPhone, the next Kindle, or the next Google. But the agency tasked with reviewing and approving those patent applications simply doesn't have the resources or manpower to keep up with the flow of innovations. And so they sit.
That backlog, he said, has stifled economic progress. It is what inspired him and Rep. Mollohan to pass legislation to help jumpstart the economy by tackling our nation's massive patent backlog and spurring American innovation. It is a critical part of the Democrats' "Make it in America" agenda to boost American manufacturing and create new American jobs.
"One of those patent applications could hold the next iPhone but might be stuck in a box for years," Murphy said. "We need to tackle this backlog in applications, which contain any number of breakthroughs that could help propel our economy, expand small businesses, and create new jobs."
The average time it takes for a patent to be approved, he noted, is around 30 months. When you consider that today, technologies often become obsolete within 18 months or less, it's clear that a process that takes two and a half years to complete is simply too long.
Further, a more streamlined and efficient patent process could be key to helping our nation maintain its technological edge globally. Patent activity among our nation's biggest competitors like China, India, and South Korea has shown exponential growth. Murphy's bill is one step toward providing the USPTO the resources necessary to keep pace with the flow of innovation and ensure American businesses and workers can compete globally.
Murphy's bill (H.R. 5874) is part of Democrats' "Make it in America" Agenda, which includes a series of legislative initiatives to boost American manufacturing and create new jobs here at home.