03.07.11

Senate Moves Closer To Final Vote On Patent Reform Bill

WASHINGTON (Monday, March 7, 2011) – The Senate Monday night moved closer to a final vote on pending legislation to make the first major reforms to the nation’s patent system in nearly six decades.  The chamber voted overwhelmingly (87-3) to bring debate to a close on the America Invents Act, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The Senate has been considering the long-pending legislation since February 28. Patent reform legislation was first proposed in Congress in 2005.  Among the key provisions of the America Invents Act is the transition to the first-to-file system, and improvements to strengthen patent quality and reduce backlogs of pending patent applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“Modernizing our patent system through the America Invents Act will make America more competitive,” said Leahy.  “It protects innovators and inventors large and small, from the small independent inventor in Middlesex, Vermont, to cutting-edge manufacturers and innovators in Ohio and California.  It will give the Patent and Trademark Office the tools it needs to process and award the patent for what may be the next life-saving device or life-changing invention.” 

The America Invents Act has received support from a diverse cross section of stakeholders and industry, including high-tech and life sciences, universities, labor, manufacturers, small businesses and independent inventors.

“This country’s first patent was issued to a Vermonter,” Leahy said.  “Thomas Jefferson, the Secretary of State, examined the application, and President George Washington signed it.  A lot has changed in the more than 220 years since that first patent was issued.  We cannot remain complacent and expect to remain at the forefront of innovation.  Enacting the America Invents Act is one way in which we can come together and show the American people that we in Washington are working together with the future of our country in mind.”

A final Senate vote on the America Invents Act is expected in the next day.

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On The Motion To Invoke Cloture On S. 23, The America Invents Act
March 7, 2011

Submitted For The Congressional Record

Today the Senate will take another step toward completing action on the America Invents Act.  This is commonsense legislation that will make the first comprehensive reforms to our Nation’s patent system in nearly 60 years. The debate on this bill since its introduction six years ago has been long, and the compromises have been many.  I am confident that the bill before us today makes the needed changes to bring the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office into the 21st century.

The America Invents Act is bipartisan legislation that has resulted from deliberation in both the Senate and House.  It has been the topic of more than a dozen hearings and Committee meetings in the Senate, and countless hours of meetings and negotiations.  I had hoped to complete action on this legislation last week.  The additional time has allowed every Senator the opportunity to come to the floor and speak about the important matters encompassed by this bill.  We have debated and adopted relevant amendments and debated and rejected other amendments, including some that were not even relevant to this legislation.  This is a bill that does not spend a dollar of taxpayer money and does not add to the deficit.  It will directly result in millions of dollars being saved, and indirectly in helping unleash American innovation to create jobs and help bolster our economy.

Now is the time to act.  Now is the time to vote.  Now is the time to move forward with this job-creating bill that will help boost our economy and restore America’s competitive edge in the global marketplace.

Modernizing our patent system through the America Invents Act will make America more competitive.  It protects innovators and inventors large and small, from the small independent inventor in Middlesex, Vermont, to cutting-edge manufacturers and innovators in Ohio and California.  It will give the Patent and Trademark Office the tools it needs to process and award the patent for what may be the next life-saving device or life-changing invention.  And the America Invents Act will do all of this without spending a dollar of taxpayer money.  This is a jobs bill that doesn’t add a cent to the deficit.  Supporters of this legislation come from both sides of the aisle, from every corner of the country, and from every component of the patent community.

This country’s first patent was issued to a Vermonter.  Thomas Jefferson, the Secretary of State, examined the application, and President George Washington signed it.  A lot has changed in the more than 220 years since that first patent was issued.  We cannot remain complacent and expect to remain at the forefront of innovation.  Enacting the America Invents Act is one way in which we can come together and show the American people that we in Washington are working together with the future of our country in mind. 

I want to commend Austan Goolsbee, the chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, for his white board presentation today on the importance of patent reform to help America win the global competition and create jobs.  The creation of more than 220,000 jobs in the private sector last month, the creation of 1.5 million jobs over the last 12 months, and the unemployment rate finally being reduced to 8.9 percent are all signs that the efforts we have made over the last two years to stave off the worst recession since the Great Depression are paying off and the economic recovery is taking hold.  The almost full percent point drop in the unemployment rate over the last three months is the largest decline in unemployment since 1983.  Despite interruptions of economic activity in many parts of the country caused by winter weather over the last months and days, despite the extraordinary rise in oil prices, the Dow Jones industrial average has climbed back to over 12,000 from a low point of 6,500.  Passage of the America Invents Act should help bolster our economic recovery and keep us on the right path toward business development and job creation.

 

I urge all Senators to support the cloture motion on the America Invents Act.  The nation’s economy, American inventors and innovators, our competitive edge in the global marketplace all will be helped when we pass this important bill.

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