There are two kinds of issues in politics. Some issues few people agree on and most people talk about, while there are other issues which most people agree on and few people talk about. Intellectual property policy is an issue that falls into the second category. Most people agree that innovation is a good thing for America. Most people agree that small-time garage inventors deserve protection from huge mega-corporations who care more about profits than integrity.
This isn’t a left versus right issue. Phyllis Schlafly Eagles hosts a dinner in Washington, D.C. every year to bring awareness to the patent issue, and some of the most faithful attendees are Democrats. The battle lines in the patent debate are drawn between the politicians of both parties who want what is best for their constituents and the politicians of both parties whose campaign coffers are filled by the mega-corporations.
Despite the corporate dollars, protecting the rights of inventors would be much easier if the American people knew more about the issue. For much of America’s history, garage inventors were protected by a unique “first-to-invent” system, whereby a patent was granted to the first person to invent something. Then in 2011, President Barack Obama signed the poorly named “America Invents Act,” which could be more properly called the “Corporations File Act.” Under that law, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, switched from a first-to-invent system to a first-to-file system. Essentially, that means a patent does not go to the person who actually invents something, but to the person who fills out the paperwork the quickest and gets a patent application filed first. If you put a garage inventor up against a huge corporation with an army of lawyers, who do you think could fill out the paperwork faster?
I know this all sounds like common sense stuff, and it is. The only reason things never change is because people just do not know what is going on in the background in Washington. If we want to truly drain the swamp of DC, we must restore common sense and expel the corrupt backroom deals that hurt small inventors.