SOURCE: Connors & Associates, Inc.

May 03, 2007 16:09 ET

Connors & Associates Opposes Proposed Patent Law Legislation

NEWPORT BEACH, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 3, 2007 -- Patent attorney John J. Connors, Esq. has emphatically registered his clients' opposition to patent bills (Leahy S.1145 and Berman H.R.1908) introduced in both houses of Congress on April 20.

In an early warning letter on March 23 sent to the Honorable John Boehner (R.-Ohio) and other members of Congress and the Administration, Connors wrote, "I am happy to report that our patent system is working the way it is supposed to. Trans-national corporations, however, are telling Congress that the American patent system is broken and needs reform, because the 'Davids' who own an American patent can stop these 'Goliaths' from stealing their ideas. If anything needs to be reformed, it is the operations of our patent office."

As a member of the Orange County Business Council's Washington D.C. delegation, Connors also alerted Orange County's congressional representatives, commenting, "The proposed legislation would radically alter the American patent system in fundamental ways, changing it to look more like those of America's global competitors."

Connors, a veteran patent attorney, former manager of a corporate patent department, and corporate director (ICU Medical, Inc.-NASDAQ), explains, "An American patent is much more valuable than foreign patents because of the size of the U.S. market and the greater likelihood of winning in court. Many trial attorneys will accept a patent case on a contingency basis, but most 'Goliath' corporations, want to shift litigation from the Federal courts to the Patent Office, which would create a legal and economic barrier to enforcement, making it more difficult for a start-up company to compete and frustrating a patentee short on money from obtaining legal representation.

"The Leahy-Berman patent bills conform the American patent system to foreign systems modeled after German patent law, which was rooted in a military-industrial economy dominated by cartels. These bills are essentially the same as the 'harmonization' patent bill of the early 1990s, calling for a 'first-to-file' system and providing that oppositions to granted patents will be tried before a Patent Office tribunal rather than a jury.

"These foreign systems," Connors continues, "also fail to offer the one-year grace period unique to the American patent system -- a provision that gives inventors a chance to test their ideas in the marketplace before spending extensively on patent protection.

"I'm afraid that a relentless public relations and lobbying campaign has hoodwinked many of our political leaders into believing the American patent system is irreparably flawed."

Connors is sharing his unique experience in written testimony to the Congressional committees considering these bills, expressing his concerns that the proposed transmutation of the U.S. patent law will devalue American patents, jeopardizing America's technological leadership and security to achieve (in the words of Senator Patrick Leahy [D-Vermont] "international consistency."

In his written testimony, Connors discusses the advantages of the current American patent system and points out that the real problem is a backlog of over 800,000 applications and an overworked and under-trained patent examiner corps. "The Leahy-Berman patent bills, if enacted, will only increase the backlog of applications," he writes, "because (1) a 'first-to-file' system encourages filing many applications covering undeveloped ideas that may never come to fruition, and (2) Patent Office resources will be diverted to conducting patent oppositions -- a new task requiring special legal training to prepare a newly recruited staff to conduct quasi-judicial functions, thus adding to the burden of a Patent Office already facing an impending breakdown."

Connors also observes that such radical changes will create uncertainty in the patent law, burden the Federal courts with interpreting new statutory provisions and applying unfamiliar legal concepts, and significantly increase the cost of obtaining and enforcing a patent.

John J. Connors founded the Newport Beach (CA) patent law firm of Connors & Associates, Inc. in 1983.

Text: Letter to Hon. John Boehner, (R-Ohio)
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Article: Orange County Lawyer Magazine, December, 2000
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(See .pdf file "Changes to the American Patent System")

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