Rep Cmte Small Business


Hearing Examines Patent Reform Law and Safeguards for Small Business Innovations

Washington, May 15, 2013 -

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Small Business Committee, led by Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), today held a hearing examining the changes in the patent system, and how to best protect the innovations of small businesses as new challenges arise.

The Committee heard testimony on the changing landscape of patent law and the effects on small firms, which develop 16 times more patents per employee than large companies. The hearing included discussion of Patent Assertion Entities, or “patent trolls,” and analysis of the early small business impact of the American Invents Act, which was signed into law in September 2011.

“The American Invents Act significantly reforms and strengthens the U.S. patent system. These reforms help reduce barriers to entry for small businesses and foster innovation, but small innovators still face too many claims from patents trolls,” said Chairman Graves. “Today’s hearing offered insight into ways we can further aid small business through a strong and fair patent system. Small firms lead the way in developing new patents, and the law must be an ally of invention to promote economic growth and America’s competitiveness.”

Materials for the hearing are posted on the House Small Business Committee’s website HERE.

Notable Quotes:

Dennis D, Crouch, Associate Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law, Columbia, MO, said, “…thousands of small and mid-sized companies are sued for patent infringement each year -- both by competitors and by patent licensing companies. Today, many cases settle in an unsatisfying way with the accused infringer paying a settlement fee simply in order to avoid the high cost of fully defending the lawsuit.”

Jeff Grainger, Managing Partner, The Foundry, LLC, Menlo Park, CA, testifying on behalf of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association, said, “…We depend upon a strong patent system that provides a fast and efficient examination process, discourages frivolous patent challenges, and imposes serious sanctions on infringers.”

John R. Thomas, Professor of Law, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, said, “Patent trolling remains a significant concern for U.S. enterprises of all sizes. In my opinion, trolling results from systemic problems within the U.S. patent system and is not amenable to a quick fix.”

Mark Grady, Founder and President, Indigital, Fort Wayne, IN, said, “Certainly, patent fee reform is helpful to our small business, as is the ‘first to file’ and ‘provisional patent’ concepts that makes the decision to file a patent clearer and easier… We remain optimistic that the Act, with some refinements, will yield faster results for higher quality patents without harming small businesses.”