The optimist in me was, for a moment, excited to hear that President Obama was signing into law today a bill that won bipartisan support in the legislature; the "America Invents Act".
Hard to "f" that one up I figured: I'm all for America, I think invention is generally awesome, and since the United States as a nation patents roughly twice its next closest competitor, I thought what could be wrong with further strengthening our proclivity for invention as a nation? There were smiles all around as Obama put pen to paper; while MSNBC heralded the act as the first significant overhaul of Patent and Trademark law since the 50's.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
It didn't take me much longer than five or so minutes of investigation before the evidence of another Washington ball-dropping contest became evident; among my favorites were the remarks made by the Deputy Director of Intellectual Property Division of Beijing's High People's Court after analyzing a first generation draft of the bill. He put it best when he said:
"[the new legislation] is friendlier to the infringers than to the [inventors] in general, as it will make the [US] patent less reliable, easier to be challenged, and cheaper to be infringed."
He went on to say:
Well, way to go Washington! Thanks again for puking in the collective faces of one of the few remaining holdouts that support America's "innovative exceptionalism": the individual American inventor.
But maybe we needed sweeping change? Maybe we should be alarmed that China is applying for and receiving more patents than the US, eh? Well let's have a look at the net National Intellectual Property deficits or surplus' for some of the largest economies in the world (2009 Statistics from the World Bank):
• Canada: -$4.5 billion (we love those guys, but besides the word "hoser", which is awesome, when was the last time you looked forward to getting that sweet new thingamabob from Canada, eh?
• France: +$4.1 billion (viva la France! who knew they were slinging that many Peugot's over there!)
• Japan: +$4.85 billion (sweet...anyone surprised?)
• Russia: -$3.61 billion (I suppose the patents on Vodka and 90 Megaton nuclear warheads expired some time ago)
• UK: +$2.8 billion (respect...and from that little ol' island!)
• US: +$64.5 billion (what the sh*t!!? yeah, that's a net +$64.5 BILLION)
Actually, our gross IP export surplus as a nation is a whopping +$90 BILLION/year!
Okay, so now I'm unclear why we're overhauling our patent system? Let's have a look at what this legislation will really do...here are the most salient highlights:
Now, thanks to this sweet new legislation, if you the hardworking software engineer, nutritionist, chemical engineer, entrepreneur, actually succeed in inventing something that works after all your months or years of toiling away, well Uncle Sam now rewards you with a switch from the "FTI" ("First to Invent") to a much totally ridiculously insanely unfair "FTF" (First to File), as in "you can have your invention LITERALLY stolen from you by another individual or corporate competitor who happens to run down to the Patent and Trademark office and files for a patent on it faster than you"! Holy #@$%! Is anyone paying attention!?
But it actually gets far more ridiculous in that this bill REMOVES the longstanding requirement that the invention being filed for actually be able to work! So, he who files faster [read: pays the USPTO more fees] wins...yay. So what type of entity would you guess is more likely to have the patent filing protocols and requisite battery of IP attorneys needed to get timely patent protection? If you guessed the individual American inventor, you're an idiot. If you guessed the big greasy too-big-to-fail corporation, you win a monster shagging session by Washington! yay?
I know, I know, just one more thing before you go: it'll cost a billion dollars to implement this smoldering rancid cesspool of bureaucratic dog barf.
Way to go Washington! Thanks so so much for the...