By awarding patents to the first to file an application with the bureaucracy instead of to the first to invent, the proposed bill will deprive inventors of their constitutional property right set forth in Article I, Section 8. of the Constitution. U.S. law has always awarded patents to real inventors, not to paper-pushers.
An important letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, from the 15-member Inventors Network of the Capital Area describes how the proposed patent bill "threatens all individual and corporate Research & Development in America, the backbone of our national defense and economic security." Here is how this racket will work.
Inventors don't usually give birth to their inventions like the Greek goddess Athena, who was born fully grown and fully armed out of Zeus' head. The Wright Brothers required many experiments as they tried wings with different angles before they were ready to patent heavier-than-air flight.
The proposed patent bill will enable Chinese hackers to steal U.S. innovation secrets while they are in development, then file an application with the U.S. Patent Office under first-to-file, and thereby own new U.S. technology instead of merely stealing it. Owning the patents will enable China legally to take away ownership rights and profits from Americans who actually invent new technologies.
Defense technologies would be a prime target of this threat. The first-to-file provision of the Patent Act would become the most effective weapon in China's arsenal and would threaten our national security in a new and ominously dangerous way.
National security expert Adam Segal testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about the dangers from Chinese cyber-espionage, massive theft and piracy, and the policy called "indigenous innovation," which requires technology transfer in return for market access. He said, "It is clear that the United States must do more to defend itself."
Since 1870, U.S. law has provided a grace period of one year between the date the invention is disclosed and the date the patent application is submitted. This grace period gives an inventor a year to perfect his invention, to sort out better from inferior features, to raise capital, to gather partners and to field test the invention before the deadline for filing a patent application.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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