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Conservatives Wrong to Oppose Patent Reform

The Innovation Act (H.R. 9), now before Congress, would reform America’s economically stifling patent system, but two dozen prominent conservative organizations oppose it. The groups complain in a recent letter to congressional leadership that this “cleaver” approach to reform would weaken intellectual-property protection for independent inventors. They call for a more narrow “scalpel” approach instead.

So what does the Innovation Act propose? Very modest changes, actually. It would require plaintiffs charging patent infringement to make their claims highly specific, limit discovery, make it easier for interested parties to join in litigation, shift litigation costs to losing plaintiffs if the underlying claims were questionable, and require disclosure to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) of individuals with an interest in allegedly infringed patents. The bill would also allow an innocent customer of an alleged infringing manufacturer to stay the proceedings against him rather than be drawn into protracted and expensive litigation.

William J. Watkins, Jr. is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent Institute books, Crossroads for Liberty, Reclaiming the American Revolution, and Patent Trolls. He received his J.D. cum laude from the University of South Carolina School of Law and is a former law clerk to Judge William B. Traxler, Jr. of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

New from William J. Watkins, Jr.!
CROSSROADS FOR LIBERTY: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America’s First Constitution
What did the American Founders actually intend for the country, and does it even matter today? In a time of increasing turmoil over American history, politics, and society, Crossroads for Liberty takes an eye-opening look at the American Revolution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, and asks what we can learn from them. Readers will come away with a greater understanding of current political and constitutional issues, as well as a new perspective on American history.