Conservative Groups Upping Patent Bill Opposition

Gavel and ConstitutionLeading organizations of the Conservative Movement have stepped up their game informing Congress on the philosophical reasons for opposing the Innovation Act and its Senate companion, the PATENT Act. This increased patent bill opposition is directed at Republican lawmakers, the political majority party in both houses of Congress, though patent issues don’t fall along party lines.

With House leadership deciding to postpone H.R. 9’s floor debate until at least September, the expanded conservative opposition seems to be effective.

The American Conservative Union, Club for Growth, and Eagle Forum have launched advertising that focuses on the House patent litigation bill, H.R. 9. The ad has appeared in the Washington Post and the Washington Times. The ad has drawn attention to the legislation in a more public way, focusing on the potential for harm to independent inventors.

Also, the Heritage Foundation think tank has produced a paper analyzing the policy issues related to pending legislation in light of recent developments concerning patent litigation, such as the Octane Fitness decision and the Judicial Conference recommendation to do away with Form 18. The Heritage paper cautions against sweeping measures that could upset the innovation ecosystem, given recent developments and so soon on the heels of the America Invents Act.

The political action arm of Heritage, Heritage Action, has now declared its opposition to H.R. 9.

Last week, ACU, Eagle Forum, Heritage and others briefed congressional staff on patent legislation. The Capitol Hill event featured remarks by conservative Members of Congress, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY). Both lawmakers have led the opposition on the GOP side of the House.

The briefers discussed patents as property rights, the excessive provisions of H.R. 9, the changed patent litigation environment, and the harm the legislation would do to patent owners and inventors. Also noted was the constitutional enumeration of inventors’ exclusive right to their discoveries. The briefing drew a full room, with staff from rank-and-file offices and the House leadership.

Raising conservative concerns about the patent bill by highlighting principled perspectives has expanded the range of the opposition. These voices join universities, IP-intensive businesses, inventors, investors and others, from a noncommercial point of view. And several of the conservative organizations have alerted Congress that they will count the H.R. 9 vote in their ratings of Members of Congress.

Several conservative groups, including Eagle Forum and ACU, have endorsed less sweeping, more focused legislation as an alternative — a move that has been helpful. The TROL Act, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee, addresses the matter of abusive demand letter practices. Rather than upending patent litigation procedures and assuming all plaintiffs are “trolls,” this bill deals with demand-letter bulk mailing to mom-and-pop retail stores under consumer protection laws.

The escalation of concern from the political right has gotten the attention of more and more GOP lawmakers, including many who voted for the Innovation Act in the previous Congress. These representatives have steadily relayed those concerns to their colleagues and their party leaders in closed-door meetings.



Following are the Ad and Original Press Release:

ACU Print Ad



WASHINGTON, DC:  The American Conservative Union, Club for Growth and Eagle Forum launched an advertising campaign today against GOP patent legislation (HR-9) that will harm American inventors and small business, while giving a “big assist to China” in the global marketplace.

“The patent legislation working its way through Congress is harmful to American innovation, inventors and small businesses.  HR-9 weakens patents and property rights as guaranteed in our Constitution.  And it gives a big assist to China in the global marketplace,” said Dan Schneider, Executive Director of the American Conservative Union.  “We’ve yet to see any of President Obama’s massive overhaul proposals to produce good results.  We don’t think this latest effort will be any better than Obamacare,” he added.

The groups’ ad campaign begins Monday with full-page ads in both The Washington Post and The Washington Times along with a comprehensive digital advertising campaign throughout the week.  A vote on HR-9 is expected in the House the week of July 20th.  Even if passed the bill faces a steep challenge in the Senate.

“Our economy is still struggling.  We have had one of the worst post recession recoveries in American history and we continue to teeter on the brink of another recession.  The American people need Congress to promote and pass pro-growth policies that help American innovation, not harm it.  This legislation is anti-growth and stifles innovation.  The timing could not be worse,” said David McIntosh, President of the Club for Growth.  “The American people did not give the GOP a majority in both Houses of Congress in 2014 so they could pass laws that harm American ingenuity and economic growth,” he added.

“This legislation undermines the Constitutional rights of American inventors and is destructive to future innovation. HR-9 helps China and hurts the United States, and the many innovators who continue to invent life saving products and devices.  China’s weak patent system has led to rampant abuse and stealing of many American inventions.  The GOP is pushing legislation that weakens our patent system and emulates China’s.  This is both bad policy and bad politics,” said Phyllis Schlafly, Founder and President of Eagle Forum.


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