Give Ingenuity Freer Rein

By:  Senator Patrick Leahy
Business Week

[On April 29, 2009, Business Week included this Op-Ed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Leahy wrote in support of the Patent Reform Act currently before Congress.]

Ingenuity and innovation have been cornerstones of the American economy from the time Thomas Jefferson issued the first patent.

The Patent Reform Act will preserve America’s longstanding position at the pinnacle of innovation. It will establish a more efficient, streamlined patent system that will improve patent quality and limit unnecessary, counterproductive litigation costs, while making sure no party’s access to court is denied.

It has been more than 50 years since Congress significantly updated the patent system. Since then our economy has changed dramatically. No longer is the economy defined only by assembly lines and brick-and-mortar production. In the Information Age, the products and processes that are being patented are outpacing the ability of the patent system to cope.

A patent system developed for a 1952 economy needs to be reconsidered for 21st century realities, while staying true to our constitutional imperative. The patent laws that were sufficiently robust for promoting innovation and economic development are now actually impeding growth, harming innovators, and raising prices on consumers.

The Patent Reform Act promotes innovation and will strengthen our economy. Congress cannot afford to sit by while innovation is held back by outdated laws.

Patent reform is about economic development. It is about American jobs, it is about innovation, and it is about consumers. We need a system that produces high-quality patents, limits counterproductive litigation over those patents, and makes the system more streamlined and efficient.

Now is the time to bolster our role as the world leader in innovation. Now is the time to create jobs at home. Now is the time for Congress to act on patent reform.

# # # # #