Small Business Technology Council Co-Chair Bob Schmidt Testified before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on March 19th in a hearing entitled “Patent Reform: Protecting Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. Up for debate was the issue of patent reform, in particular the Innovation Act (HR 9) that was passed in the House and is now up for consideration in the Senate. The SBTC opposes the Innovation Act, as we believe that the legislation weakens the patent system and creates a huge financial and legal burden on small business inventors. Four of the five witnesses, including Bob, agreed with our position on the Innovation Act hurting small business.
As an alternative to Innovation Act, the SBTC supports the STRONG Patents Act of 2015, introduced by Senator Coons. Bob Schmidt lauded this bill as a much better, fairer alternative that better addresses the issue of patent trolls while ensuring that legal protections for small business patent holders remains strong.
Another big issue that was brought up is the ongoing backlog of hundreds of thousands of patent applications at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Bob testified that it isn’t uncommon for his company to have to wait 6 years for his applications to be approved. He said a big reason for this is the billions of dollars siphoned from the PTO by Congress for non-related activities that has led to the office being perpetually understaffed. He referred to this the “invention tax”, and implored Congress to let the PTO keep the money they generate to better handle the number of applications they process.
Excerpt of Bob Schmidt’s testimony and answering questions: