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Conservative Leaders Oppose Patent Reform Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2008 — A group of 15 prominent conservative leaders today released the text of a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell strongly opposing S. 1145, the patent reform legislation that is pending in the Senate, and asking the Senate leadership to keep the bill from coming to the floor.

According to the conservative activists, "This bill, under the mantle of 'reform,' will actually severely damage U.S. international competitiveness and threaten most American businesses — along with the jobs they create — by undermining America's historically strong intellectual property rights." The letter goes on to state, "[T]his bill is written for the benefit of one economic sector, large IT firms, to the detriment of almost every other industrial, service, and financial sector of the economy. . . . Since when is public policy held captive to meet the narrow needs and self-interest of a single sector?"

According to Kevin Kearns, president of the U.S. Business and Industry Council and a spokesman for the group, "Although Senator Leahy said that disagreement over only a few words of the damages provision is keeping the bill from the floor, the reality is that there profound differences over damages, post-grant review, first-to-file, Internet publication of patent applications, and other issues among the majority of the stakeholders. The fact is, after many months of work, S. 1145 is still completely inadequate to meet the needs of America's smaller inventors, large and small domestic manufacturers, venture capitalists, labor unions, agricultural entities, biotech and pharmaceutical firms, non-profit research consortia, and research universities."

Continued Kearns, "The negotiations over critical provisions of this bill which radically changes over 200 years of constitutionally mandated U.S. patent practice — have taken place between just a few parties behind closed doors. This isn't the way sweeping changes in the law should be made in a democracy. Any bill that comes before the Senate should be a consensus document, appropriately vetted among the full range of the affected economic groups."

The conservative leaders point out that press articles in India and China make clear that foreign interests believe the bill will make it much easier to infringe U.S. patents. The letter states, "This bill will lead to many additional American factories and jobs, even entire industries, being lost to overseas competitors."

Further the conservative group believes that tampering with the risk/reward calculation makes a decision to commercialize a patent much harder and is potentially an innovation killer. Given current economic conditions, the group feels that, "At a time of economic turmoil and possible recession, more market uncertainty is the last thing that our fragile economy needs."

The U.S. Business & Industry Council is a national business organization founded in 1933. Its 1,500 members are mainly family-owned domestic manufacturing companies.


(The letter is attached to this press release as a pdf file.)

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