Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Celebration of World IP Day

This Friday, April 26, is “World IP Day,” when countries around the world celebrate the role of intellectual property in encouraging innovation and creativity.  It is an opportunity for us to acknowledge the authors, artists, and musicians who enrich our lives; the inventors whose work is transforming our digital economy; and creators around the world. 

Whether you are an inventor, a creative artist, or a small business owner protecting your brand, you deserve the benefit of your work.  By protecting those works, we incentivize future developments that benefit us all.  As lawmakers, our goal must be to provide strong and effective protections for creators, while ensuring that their creations can be appreciated, used, and enjoyed.  This policy is central to the American economy, where 35 percent of our GDP is generated by IP-related industries.  A vibrant intellectual property system fosters growth not only in our country, but also around the world.

Earlier this month, I introduced legislation that would strengthen an innovation program created by the Patent and Trademark Office, the Patents for Humanity Program.  The Patents for Humanity Program rewards a select number of exceptional innovators who apply their intellectual property to address global humanitarian needs.  At the first Patents for Humanity Awards ceremony two weeks ago, I was proud to honor inventors who had worked to improve the diagnosis of devastating diseases, supply access to clean water, and combat the spread of dangerous counterfeit drugs.  Our patent system protects that life-changing work, and in the case of the Patents for Humanity Program, helps promote its use for the global good.

As we find ways to incentivize and promote widespread innovation, we must uphold the vital protections that allow innovators to grow and thrive.  We must work to deter and prevent the theft of intellectual property, which hurts creators, costs jobs, and impedes economic growth.  In our interconnected age, no country, or even group of countries, can address that problem alone.  More than ever, we need to work together to recognize the value of intellectual property so that inventors and creators around the world may receive the benefit of their work and continue to create it.

We must also come together to streamline processes that will help innovators to fuel growth in the future.  Eighteen months ago, Congress took an important step with passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which modernized our patent system for the 21st Century and helped harmonize our laws with systems around the world.  Last December, I was pleased to expand on those improvements with passage of the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act, which will help American inventors by simplifying and expediting the process for obtaining patent protections overseas. 

There is more Congress can do to improve the patent system and address the problem of patent trolling, by increasing transparency and accountability.  I intend to work in a bipartisan and bicameral manner on legislation that will ensure the real party in interest of a patent is disclosed, protect unknowing and innocent purchasers of allegedly infringing products from unwarranted suits, and continue to improve patent quality, and we will explore other means to make trolling activity unprofitable. 

Our intellectual property system supports the creative and inventive talents of our citizens, and provides the vital fuel of our economy.  I hope others will join me in celebrating World IP Day.


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