As an independent inventor and entrepreneur, I have a deep appreciation and respect for the value of intellectual property. The United States Patent System provides the incentive and protection to be innovative. To go out and discover what is new and possible. These innovations could ultimately have enormous impacts on our lives, or simply add joy. We, as inventors, benefit from the patent rights afforded to us. Society benefits from our creativity as well.
The patent system in the United States is the best system in the world, yet it is in dire need of reform. Current backlog of applications has reached a record high, and without a major tune-up of the system, we run the risk of seeing the engine of innovation break down. There is a unique opportunity to address some of the major issues facing the patent system through proposed legislation currently being studied in the House and Senate.
On April 8th, I stood up and took a public position FOR reform. In a letter sent to members of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, I voiced the support of Independent Inventors for patent reform. I do not take this lightly, and I certainly did not do this without taking the pulse of the Independent Inventor community.
Over the past 12 months, I have met with thousands of you, and what I hear is consistent. We want a system that protects inventors. We want a system that is affordable. We want a system that quickly and efficiently processes our applications. And we want to know that our patents will not be challenged years after issuance. We want to be able to use our intellectual property to build businesses, create jobs, or generate an economic return on our investment.
The following letter was my attempt at sharing this with our elected officials. I welcome your feedback, questions, and support.
Louis J. Foreman
April 8, 2010
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Leahy:
On the Emmy Award winning PBS television show, Everyday Edisons, the show opens with the simple proclamation: Every idea deserves a chance. A chance to change the way we work, the way we live, or the way we play.
Over the past three seasons, tens of thousands of independent inventors have brought their ideas for the chance to have them developed and commercialized on the show. They bring with them not only their prototypes, but their hopes and dreams. These garage tinkerers and problem solvers are what define this country. They are the ones who always believe there has to be a better way, and go out and prove it. They are the true independent inventors.
As executive producer of the PBS series Everyday Edisons and the publisher of Inventors Digest magazine, a 25 year old publication devoted to the independent inventor community, I have met inventors, both famous and soon to be famous. I am moved by their stories of success and also failure. Their optimism fuels their desire to pursue their innovations, knowing that there exists a system to ultimately protect their inventions if they are successful.
As an independent inventor myself, and an advocate for others, I strongly believe that the current leadership at the USPTO is working in the best interests of all inventors, and have thoughtfully and diligently provided the necessary measures to not only protect independent inventors, but to also encourage future pursuits of intellectual property.
Our current system of protecting inventors is in dire need of reform. The proposed measures would be a significant improvement to the existing system and benefit everyone. The reform legislation will lower fees for micro-entities, provide for a shorter waiting time for patent prosecution, and ultimately result in a stronger patent, making it easier for independent inventors and small businesses to attract start-up capital.
Change can be frightening, and I can certainly understand why there would be reluctance to address the system. What I fear more, however, is when groups opposed to advancing the system use fear to thwart progress and prevent the benefits associated with change. Sitting still and leaving the current system alone is not an option, nor does it benefit anyone. Pendency must be reduced to allow for an efficient system of protecting intellectual property and stimulating innovation.
While I support the proposed patent reform measures, I am hopeful that change does not end here. This is the time and opportunity to invest in the innovative future of America by providing increased funding to the USPTO to reduce the current backlog by modernizing the systems and technologies used to process applications.
Innovation benefits everyone and leads to the creation of new jobs and new industries; however, none of this occurs without execution. Innovation requires an idea along with an investment of time and resources. Patent reform is no different. This country has the unique opportunity to tune-up the engine of innovation and use it to drive this country forward.
It is my sincere hope that you will listen to the voice of the true independent inventor community and answer their call for change. Like so many others, I stand ready to assist. I would welcome the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas in more depth should that be viewed as helpful.
Louis J. Foreman