SOURCE: CONNECT

December 15, 2009 14:50 ET

Small Business Coalition on Patent Legislation Established to Oppose Proposals That Would Harm Small Businesses and Individual Inventors

Created to Amplify the Unheard Voices of Small Business Innovators in the Patent Reform Debate

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - December 15, 2009) - A group of organizations today announced that they have banded together to form the Small Business Coalition on Patent Legislation created to draw attention to current patent reform proposals that have not been addressed by established patent stakeholders and that would be uniquely harmful to small business patentees if enacted.

The Coalition is a national consortium of organizations representing and assisting early-stage startup companies, small-businesses, individual and academic inventors, researchers and new innovative market entrants who depend on patent protection. The Coalition will amplify and channel the voices of its small-business constituents in their attempts to be heard on critical patent reform matters arising under the proposed Patent Reform Act of 2009 (Senate bill S. 515 and House bill H.R. 1260).

Members of the Coalition are particularly concerned about two provisions in the proposed patent reform bills: (i) repeal of first inventors' rights, changing the patent priority determining date from the date of invention to the date of filing the application; and (ii) provisions instituting new and additional post-grant proceedings at the U.S. Patent Office to challenge issued patents. Both changes sharply favor large companies and market incumbents and will be highly detrimental to the Coalition's small-business constituents.

Today the Coalition took its first action addressing concerns about the Administration's support and advocacy for these two provisions. In a letter sent to Karen G. Mills, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Coalition urged the SBA to assume its unique role, expertise and mandate in evaluating the proposed patent reform legislation's effects on small businesses. The Coalition's letter raised concerns that the U.S. Department of Commerce's support for these provisions had not adequately taken into account the circumstances of small-business patentees.

The letter said that these provisions, if enacted, "will inflict unprecedented harm on small firms that rely on patented innovations. Such changes will impede new investments and new jobs creation in the very segment of the economy that is responsible for most of America's new jobs."

The Coalition's letter explained that the transition of the U.S. to filing-date-based patent priority system, often called "First-to-File," will change proven equitable principles enshrined in 200 years of American patent law and will unfairly shift costs and uncertainty risks from large firms to small patenting firms. Establishing an early patent priority date under the First-to-File system will require a "race to the patent office" with every new important idea, whether or not it later proves worth patenting. Because current law relies on the invention date, it ensures that patent applications need only be filed on valuable inventions, and the applications that are filed are vetted and describe mature, complete inventions. Unlike large firms that have lower-cost in-house patent attorneys who can afford to file more often, small businesses and early-stage startups will incur substantial increases in risks of losing patent protection. Small firms are less likely to have funds to flood the USPTO with patent applications, and small firms often need to disclose their inventions to many potential investors (including large would-be competitors) before having the funding to engage in patent prosecution. "Large incumbent firms do not face these problems, and under First-to-File policies, they will gain competitive advantage over their startup rivals entering the market," said the letter.

The Small Business Coalition on Patent Legislation's letter to Administrator Mills can be accessed here.

About the Small Business Coalition on Patent Legislation

The Small Business Coalition on Patent Legislation is a national consortium of organizations representing and assisting early-stage startup companies, small-businesses, individual and academic inventors, researchers and new innovative market entrants who depend on patent protection. The Coalition was created to amplify and channel the voices of its small-business constituents in their attempts to be heard on critical patent reform matters.

About the Coalition's Participants

CONNECT is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating and sustaining the growth of innovative technology and life science businesses in San Diego. Since 1985, CONNECT has assisted in the formation and development of over 2,000 companies and is widely regarded as the world's most successful regional program linking inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success. www.connect.org

The National Small Business Association (NSBA) is a national non-profit membership organization founded in 1937, representing America's small business companies and entrepreneurs. Reaching more than 150,000 small businesses, NSBA is the first and oldest national small-business advocacy organization in the United States. www.nsba.biz

IP Advocate is a non-profit organization dedicated to equipping the academic research community with critical information needed to understand and traverse the complex flow of policy, law and procedure from innovation through technology transfer and commercialization of intellectual property. www.ipadvocate.org

The American Innovators for Patent Reform (AIPR) is a coalition of inventors, patent owners, researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, licensing executives, patent agents and attorneys, and others involved in creating or protecting innovation and advocating for stronger patent protection. www.aminn.org

The National Association of Patent Practitioners (NAPP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting patent practitioners and those working in the field of patent law in matters relating to patent law, its practice, and technological advances. www.napp.org

The Professional Inventors Alliance USA (PIAUSA) is a national organization promoting inventor-entrepreneur and small business interests since 1993. PIAUSA works to protect American invention and encourage innovation by providing the nation's independent inventors a united voice to improve public policy. www.piausa.org

The United Inventors Association (UIA) is a non-profit member supported organization dedicated to inventor education and support. Since its founding in 1990, UIA continues to provide reliable information to inventors, as well as Certification to groups and service providers who comply with rigorous professional and ethical standards. www.uiausa.org

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