Cayetano says reforming Patent Office would hurt state economy
By BRUCE DUNFORD
Associated Press Writer
HONOLULU (AP The fountainhead of much of America's economic prosperity --its independent inventors -- is being threatened by proposed congressional legislation to revamp the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Gov. Ben Cayetano has warned other governors.
And that's not good for Hawaii, he said Tuesday. In a recent letter to his 49 colleagues, Cayetano asked the governors to urge their congressional delegations to oppose the House bill titled "The American Inventors Protection Act," a measure critics deride as "The Inventor Elimination Act."
In doing so, Cayetano, a Democrat and chairman of the Western Governors' Association, has allied himself with organizations of independent inventors, 26 Nobel laureates, several prominent inventors and economists and conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. "Our reading of the bill is that it favors the big boys, so to speak, and really impairs the individual inventor," Cayetano said Tuesday. "And what we want to do in Hawaii is to create a legal system here that is going to encourage inventions, patents and things like that. "And this bill, as we read it, will not do that."
But supporters, including the Clinton administration, say the measure would make the patent-filing process more efficient and fair, making it a government-owned corporation funded by application fees rather than federal subsidies.
The inventors' groups fought off a similar bill which passed the House in 1997, but then failed to pass in the Senate.
The nation's unique patent system is the reason America has produced more major inventions than all the rest of the world combined, but the Clinton administration, in a partnership with Japan, China and multinational corporations "whose god is globalism," is trying to weaken it, Schlafly said on her Web page.
Members of the proposed Patent Public Advisory Committee, which would oversee and set policy for the Patent office, primarily would be corporate leaders who are the natural enemy to inventors, Schlafly said. "People with those resumes would be like foxes guarding the chicken coop," she said. Hawaii has a particular interest in the bill because of its effort to attract high-tech industry to the islands and diversify a tourism-oriented economy which has been stagnant for nine years, Cayetano said. "When I went to Silicon Valley, this was made very clear to me that if Hawaii could come up with an infrastructure that protected intellectual property rights and the development of intellectual property rights (and) inventions, it would make us more attractive," he said. "Supporting a patent system law that encourages invention is the kind of state economic strategy we need to focus on."
Schlafly's Web address is www.eagleforum.org.