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Public Statements

America Invents Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. HIRONO. Madam Chair, I rise today in reluctant opposition to H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act.

In Hawaii, independent inventors and small businesses are at the forefront of the innovation that we need to strengthen our state's economic future. Year after year, small businesses have been responsible for the majority of net job growth nationwide. Congress must modernize and fully fund the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to address the massive application backlog that stifles innovation and job creation.

However, I have heard from independent inventors and small businesses in Hawaii who express grave concerns about H.R. 1249. This bill's shift to a ``first inventor to file'' system could create a ``race to file,'' allowing large corporations to use early and repeat filings to threaten independent inventors' and small businesses' rights.

Further, to speed up patent processing and job creation, the PTO must be able to use inventors' application fees for their intended use: processing patents. The PTO receives no taxpayer money, and is funded entirely by fees. I voted against the manager's amendment that diverts these user fees to the vagaries of the annual congressional budget process.

I also have concerns about Section 18 of the bill. This section establishes an administrative review process for financially related business method patents whose validity has been questioned. This review process is retroactive, and even previously awarded patents whose validity had been upheld by federal courts would be subject to challenge. This is unfair to inventors, who would have to defend themselves again for patents they have already been awarded and already defended in court.

Innovation and technology development is essential to growing Hawaii's economy of the future. For this reason, I support patent reform but cannot support the bill before us today.


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