Lawmakers are wrestling with it now but patent reform has received minimal media coverage, even though the fruits of the legislation could have an impact on both national security and constitutional law. The Patent Reform Act of 2011 has already passed in the Senate and is going to a vote in the House of Representatives on June 15, 2011.
In his most recent State of The Union Address, President Obama said that “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation…what America does better than anyone else—is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.” If the patent reform act passes in the House and he signs it, the President may be responsible for re-writing American history in which the United States will not be remembered as “The nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers,” but as the nation that sold itself to Internet pirates, Massachusetts patent attorney David Boundy warned the mostly conservative students at the Eagle Forum Collegians 18th annual conference on Capitol Hill.
Boundy, who is also a Wall Street attorney, choked up in the middle of his speech as he described the failure of the bill’s “First to File” (FTF) provision: the root of concern. He articulated the reasoning behind many companies and many inventors’ fear of a future with FTF. One of these parties, The Inventor Network of The Capital Area, expressed its distress in a letter to Speaker John Boehner, which explicitly outlines America’s vulnerability under the measure:
The FTF of provision of H.R. 1249 thus creates an unimaginably huge new incentive for industrial espionage in the U.S. by China and non-state cybercriminals that directly threatens U.S. national defense and economic security in an entirely new and highly dangerous way. The probable damage is severe and far outweighs any possible legal benefits.
It’s a key distinction to inventors whose discoveries could be pirated by hustlers who make it to the patent office before they do or are “first to file,” whether those hijacking the discoveries are from another company or another country.
In addition to posing a number of threats to U.S. security, Boundy also discussed the constitutionality of current patent reform proposals at the Eagle Collegian Forum. Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, who introduced the patent lawyer, joined the discussion and offered students material on how Article 1 section 8 of the constitution is meant to secure an inventor’s discovery, to protect the privileges due those who were First-to-Invent rather than First–to-File.