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Eagle Forum Capitol Alert
July 22, 1999

   
URGENT PATENT ALERT!

READ THIS IMPORTANT LETTER SENT TO ALL GOVERNORS BY THE GOVERNOR OF HAWAII.

Call your own Member of Congress and ask him to call the Governor of his own state and request a copy. Ask your Member of Congress to send you a copy and also send one to Eagle Forum.


State of Hawaii Governor Seal
EXECUTIVE CHAMBERS
STATE CAPITOL
HONOLULU, HAWAII


BENJAMIN J. CAYETANO
GOVERNOR

EXECUTIVE CHAMBERS
            HONOLULU

Dear Governor ________:

I am writing to urge you to join me in opposing pending federal legislation entitled "The American Inventors Protection Act of 1999." Despite the bill's title, H.R. 1907 seriously weakens the property rights of independent American inventors by significantly undermining the patent protection so important to encouraging innovation. In one of its most damaging provisions, the bill creates "prior user rights" thus upsetting the delicate balance that has made the U.S. patent system one of the greatest of all American innovations.

Why should we as Governors be concerned with patent rights of inventors? Simply because independent inventors are the fountainhead of much of America's economic prosperity -- as a recent article in Fortune so aptly points out:

by following their noses no matter what, self-employed inventors have lit up the night and given us everything from wings to waterbeds. Their legacy includes the seed corn whence sprang many, if not most, of the Fortune 500. (Fortune March 29, 1999)

Understandably, independent inventors from across the nation are opposed to H.R. 1907. Several major organizations that represent independent inventors strongly oppose this bill as a major threat to continuing innovation. These include Intellectual Property Creators, the Alliance for American Innovation and the Inventor's Digest.

Although independent inventors have much to lose, all Americans will be hurt by passage of H.R. 1907. Nobel laureate and M.I.T. economist Franco Modigliani has written that "this bill will affect the future of the country as an economic power more than any other legislation in recent history." In a recent letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Dr. Modigliani warns that H.R. 1907 "would devastate American economic leadership and do serious harm internally to this country's job creation ability."

H.R. 1907 is a direct successor to H.R. 400 of the last Congress, which narrowly passed the House but was defeated in the Senate because of strong opposition from a determined group of inventors, scientists and economists.

More than two dozen Nobel laureates joined forces during the last congress to protect the current American patent system and to oppose S. 507, the Senate version of H.R. 400. Between America's best and brightest in science and economics, they warned Senators that the pending legislation threatened "lasting harm to the United States and the world." Representing a broad range of political views, from Milton Friedman to Paul Samuelson, these 26 laureates explained that S. 507 would prove to be "very damaging to American small inventors and thereby discourage the flow of new inventions that have contributed so much to America's superior performance in the advancement of science and technology."

Historically, innovation has led to technological advancement and that advancement has created jobs and even new industries. Independent inventors, not large corporations, have contributed the majority of this country's most important inventions. Protecting the patent rights of independent inventors is of utmost importance to the future prosperity of states as we move into the next century.

When I was elected Chairman of the Western Governors' Association on June 15, 1999, I chose as the Chairman's theme for the coming year: "Growth on the Cutting Edge - New State Economic Strategies for the Next Century." I was inspired to embrace this theme, in part by Michael Porter's presentation on "New Imperatives in the U. S. Economy: Issues for States" given at the 1999 NGA Winter Meeting. You may remember Dr. Porter arguing convincingly that states must support a policy environment that protects intellectual property so that innovation will govern success in the new economy. I am concerned that H.R. 1907 is poor public policy in that it undermines rather than protects the intellectual property of independent inventors.

I have contacted Hawaii's congressional delegation and have been assured that they too are opposed to H.R. 1907. Please provide this information to your congressional delegation and urge them to carefully consider the effect of this bill on U.S. innovation.

With warmest personal regards,

Aloha,


BENJAMIN J. CAYETANO


CAPITOL SWITCHBOARD: (202) 224-3121

 
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