Mr. COBLE. Mr. Speaker, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or ``AIA,'' which was signed into law on September 16, 2011, is the most substantial reform of U.S. patent law since the 1836 Patent Act. The AIA re-establishes the United States patent system as the global standard. The bill that we discuss today, H.R. 6621, makes necessary technical corrections to the AIA to ensure that the bill realizes its full potential to promote innovation and create jobs.
The AIA represented the culmination of nearly a decade of work by Members, key staff, and officials from both the Bush and Obama Administrations. The bill helps to bring our patent system into the 21st century and sets our nation's innovation infrastructure on the right path for decades to come.
At the center of our successful efforts to enact the AIA and this technical corrections measure over the last decade has been Blaine Merritt, the Chief Counsel of the Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet.
Blaine has been a constant and tireless public servant, who has served the American people with quiet distinction and professionalism for nearly three decades. On the occasion of his retirement from the U.S. House of Representatives, I want to note a few of his many contributions to our work and to the betterment of the American people.
A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Blaine's congressional career began in 1985 in our office where he began his public service as a Legislative Assistant. In 1988, he was promoted to Legislative Director, a position he served in until he was called to serve on the professional staff of the Committee on the Judiciary in 1997.
Once on the Committee, Blaine was appointed Chief Counsel to the subcommittee with oversight over our intellectual property laws and courts related issues in 2000. In that capacity, Blaine served three successive Republican Chairmen--Representatives Henry Hyde, Jim Sensenbrenner and Lamar Smith.
During his service on the Judiciary Committee, Blaine established himself and became recognized as one of our nation's foremost authorities on the law of patents, copyrights and trademarks as well as an expert on all matters that relate to the Federal judiciary and congressional procedure.
Blaine's contributions to landmark legislation are innumerable. Counted among the bills he helped to steer to enactment are the American Inventor's Protection Act (AIPA), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the aforementioned Leahy-Smith AIA of 2011.
Mr. Speaker, I've been blessed to represent the good citizens of the Sixth District of North Carolina, from where Blaine hails, since 1985. Throughout my tenure, I and countless other Members of the ``People's House'' have benefitted from his sound counsel, seasoned judgment and quiet leadership.
As Blaine embarks upon the next phase of his career, I hope he takes a little time to relax and watch his beloved ``Blue Devils'' basketball team that is undefeated and ranked number one in the Nation. I thank my friend for his invaluable service and wish him ``Fair Winds and Following Seas'' always.