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Public Statements

Patent Overhaul Technical Corrections

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 6621.

The bill being considered is being promoted as a technical corrections piece of legislation, and by and large that's exactly what it is. But also, there is one provision in this bill that raises significant concerns and needs to be addressed. I would ask my friend from Michigan perhaps to consider this and perhaps reconsider his position on the bill, because I'm sure he does not know about this.

Our country's patent system has long been one of the strongest in the world.

One of its basic tenets has been the steadfast adherence to the principle of total confidentiality of a patent application until the patent is granted. Congress has repeatedly stood by that principle even though there have been many powerful forces in this country trying to eliminate that concept, but we've stood by this principle that these applicants should have confidentiality as their application works its way through the patent system. It prevents the big guys with money and power from attacking and neutralizing the little guys with genius but few resources.

H.R. 6621 threatens to disrupt this longstanding practice and principle by requiring the United States Patent and Trademark Office to submit a report to Congress on certain patent application sections. This report, as mandated by this bill, will include information about the applications that have been traditionally kept confidential, including the name of the inventor, which has always been confidential to prevent these inventors from attack by very powerful interests who would steal their invention.

While the technical contents of the applications would be most likely not included in the report, this legislation requires the PTO, in their report to Congress, to report the names of the applicants.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Yoder). The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. SMITH of Texas. I yield the gentleman an additional 1 minute.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. There is a requirement to report the names, so this bill requires in this report to have the names of the applicants and other identifying information that could be used by powerful outside groups--yes, read that foreign and multinational corporations--to make these applicants potential targets even before their patent is granted.

Anonymity could easily be accomplished by a simple change to one section of this bill. Perhaps the PTO could create a unique identifier for each applicant so that they could easily be tracked but without giving risk that the public would know about this and be able to identify the inventor.

We can make this a good bill. We just need to take a couple words out of it or one small section out of it, because as the ranking member suggested, it does a lot of good, but it does a lot of harm, much more harm, unless we take this out of the bill.

So I would ask my colleagues to oppose this legislation until it is perfected so we are not going to hurt the little inventors and hurt our country's ability on the technology front by trying to make a few technical corrections to the way the Patent Office does its job.


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