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.