Sometimes doing nothing isn't such a bad thing. Our patent system could use a few fixes, but not the kind Congress is now pursuing. Folks, if Congress or the Administration really wanted to fix the patent system to BENEFIT innovators and advance the cause of the useful arts, they would NOT imposes a $100 million tax on patent seekers by diverting the money they pay in fees to the USPTO to feed their big spending habits in unrelated sectors. That's right: the inefficiencies and costly delays in our patent system are due, at least in part, to Congress taking away the money that the USPTO receives from inventors. It's a tax on innovation, a ridiculous innovation fatigue factor. Let the USPTO keep and spend the money it receives to advance patent searching and prosecution. Tax tobacco, not innovation and innovators. Our economic recovery needs more innovation, not less.
Now the same group who doesn't mind taxing innovators and adding to the delays at the USPTO have offered "patent reform" to "fix" our patent problems. Sounds great, right? Good intentions, no doubt. But as we warn repeatedly in Conquering Innovation Fatigue, there can be unintended innovation fatigue factors rising even from well-intended actions if policy makers aren't listening to the voice of the innovator. That's the voice of the innovator, not the voice of the largest campaign donors. They might do OK with the reforms being pushed through Congress. It's lone inventors and small companies I'm most worried about. You should be, too.
David Boundy offers a summary of the problems with the patent reform legislation over at Patent Docs. I agree with much of his analysis. From my work in the innovation community, I've seen that the year grace period inventors have in the U.S. from public disclosure to filing a patent really is valuable for lone inventors and small companies, and eliminating it will greatly increase costs and risks. It could be a crushing blow for some.
Read David's article. I look forward to your comments, there or here.