I’ve been in Washington DC for most of the last two weeks working to stop the legislation that would destroy our rights as inventors. The fight is on.
First, is the Innovation Act, H.R.9 that bad? Well, this bill will make it virtually impossible for the typical inventor to defend a patent against theft. As written, “Loser Pays” means that if you try to defend your patent and do not prevail, you will potentially be liable for your infringer’s legal costs, which could exceed $1,000,000. An investor with an interest in your patent could be personally liable for this (throwing out hundreds of years of corporate law and the protective corporate veil). The only way you and any investor will not be liable, since you are considered guilty until proven innocent, is if you re-litigate each point against the blue-chip attorneys of your opponent, spending another $500,000 or so, and hopefully successfully prove that your case was reasonable (even though you lost it, which your opponents will use against you).
Would you be able to defend a patent with this kind of liability? How many investors would get involved with startups based on patents with this kind of liability if the patent ever needed to be defended?
Any American should be outraged that a handful of large corporations would so arrogantly try to destroy one of the most basic elements of this great nation and a key factor behind the “American Dream.” More outrageous is the fact that this bill actually passed the US House in December of 2013. It didn’t just barely get by, it passed in a landslide: 325-91.
It was about to blow through the Senate in January last year when Paul Morinville and I decided we had to stop it. We made a number of trips to DC, went door to door in the Senate, educated a lot of people, gained allies in the fight, and the bill ended up getting side-tracked.
Amazingly, it’s back in the House Judiciary Committee, and those that want to pass it are fighting with a vengeance. The corporations that are behind it have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying and public relations to get this bill passed. Their propaganda is very compelling and very dishonest.
I’ve been to DC 5 times so far this year, and Paul has been more than that. Out of approximately 150 offices we’ve met with, the majority, after hearing the truth, either become allies or, at least, sympathetic and doubtful about the bill.
There are also more groups in the fight on our side this time, which is good. But we are up against huge odds. Many “experts” have said that there is no way to stop a bill that passed so overwhelmingly last time. But we must stop it.
If we don’t stop it, the Senate will try to pass a bill with these fatal provisions in it. Paul and I might not be able to continue our fight because of the financial strain – it is a small miracle that we have done as much as we have. Even if we can continue the fight, we might not be able to pull off a win. And if you’re thinking a Republican majority should help us, realize that they want tort reform (personal injury cases). Because patent litigation is in the same area of law as personal injury cases, they think getting “Loser Pay” there is the first step toward getting it throughout.
Before the bill can be voted on, it has to be agreed on and passed by the Judiciary Committee. The Chairman of this committee, Goodlatte, is a Republican and the sponsor of this bill. For other Republicans to go against him is very difficult.
The good news is that there is a Tea Party revolt brewing. We are doing our best to bring it to a boil. And the far left, when they have the truth, are also allies.
The markup (Judiciary Committee meeting to get agreement on the final version of the bill before it goes to the House floor) was supposed to happen last week, but it was delayed. It has not been rescheduled yet, apparently because of opposition.
As the opposition grows, those in charge are increasing their efforts to jam this bill through the Judiciary. Certainly, those powerful individuals who want this bill passed are using whatever pressure they can to get their votes. We know that many don’t like this bill. We don’t know how many will stand up and do the right thing when push comes to shove.
Now is the time to stand up and make ourselves known. Now is the time to call and email your Representative and let him or her know that you are against the Innovation Act, H.R.9. Take a look at the two short papers (see Papers tab) for ammunition. You can find your Representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.
We have an opportunity right now to do what everyone said couldn’t be done – to kill this bill in the House. Don’t let your rights as an inventor be taken. Stand with me and the rest of your fellow inventors and let’s win this battle now.
Also, Paul now has a “donate” button on his website to help fund this effort (go to http://usinventor.org/). No donation is too small, and it will help keep us in the fight.
Randy Landreneau, Founder
Independent Inventors of America