When displaced American workers complain about outsourcing U.S. manufacturing jobs to take advantage of cheap Chinese factory labor, and about using low-paid Asians here on H-1B visas to take engineering and computer jobs, the globalists and multinational corporations have a ready answer. They recite in chorus: Don't worry, be happy, because American technology and innovation enable us to compete in the global market.
But now those same globalists and multinationals are trying to outsource our technology and innovation advantage by delivering a body blow to our patent system. This plan comes under the deceptive label Patent "Reform" Act (H.R. 1908), and it's already been rushed through the U.S. House.
Our patent system is the reason why nearly all the world's great inventions are American, giving us a standard of living that is the envy of the world. The right of inventors, large and small, to own their own inventions is so important that it (along with copyright) is the only "right" protected in the original U.S. Constitution, preceding all the more famous rights spelled out in constitutional amendments.
A combination of foreigners who make a business of stealing our intellectual property, and the multinationals who want to avoid paying royalties to small inventors, have ganged up to get Congress to do their bidding. The battle is going on behind closed doors between the corporations with highly paid lobbyists vs. the small inventors and businesses who produce 40 percent of U.S. innovation.
This attempt to bully the small guys with legislation doesn't make sense. But it's rolling through the halls of Congress because it has dodged publicity.
Item No. 1: The Patent "Reform" Act would change the rule for granting patents from the American first-to-invent requirement to the foreign procedure called first-to-file. This provision is arguably unconstitutional: The U.S. Constitution protects the ownership "right" for inventors, not filers.
There is no good reason to prefer any foreign procedure over the successful American system. And there is a mighty good reason not to: First-to-file would bring a tsunami of applications ground out by the multinationals' large staffs, leaving the small inventors buried in paper.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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