In June of 2017, Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Support Technology & Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience Act (the STRONGER Patents Act), legislation which is intended to make it easier and more affordable for patent holders to enforce the patents they have worked hard for.

Coons introduced the STRONG Patents Act last year, which was meant to create a more “fair and efficient” patent process. The STRONGER Patents Act is designed to update and expand upon the previous STRONG Patents Act, and is already making waves in the legal community.

One of the primary goals of the STRONGER Patents Act is to allow for patents to be treated as any other property by allowing patent owners to file protective injunctions during and after court proceedings. Further, by limiting repeat challenges, the Act looks to ensure fairness in Patent Office administrative challenges for all parties involved. Other goals of the Act aim to help protect small business owners from abusive patent demand letters and to ensure patent application fees remain at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). By keeping patent application fees in the USPTO’s pocket, rather than in the hands of other government agencies, the Act looks to ensure timely, high-quality patents.

“We must work together to ensure that the patent laws keep up with the innovators, so their ideas and businesses can fuel the American economy for generations to come. This means working to ensure that a patent continues to play its historic role in enabling inventors and small businesses to get funding and protect their ideas from being copied by larger corporate infringers,” said Senator Coons.

There have been multiple Supreme Court and legislative changes over the past ten years that many feel have resulted in weakening the patent system. The United States used to be ranked first in the world for innovation and protection of intellectual property. However, partially due to the recent Supreme Court cases, foreign competitors have surpassed the U.S. in these categories. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s international ranking of patent system strength, the UK and Germany are quickly rising to the top of the list, while the United States has markedly fallen to tenth place. “The STRONGER Patents Act says ‘enough is enough’ and ensures that patent rights are protected as a fundamental underpinning of our innovation economy.”

Not only do patents help to drive innovation, they also serve to stimulate economic growth and provide jobs for thousands of United States citizens. “Patent-intensive industries create high-paying jobs that have a wage premium of 75%, and the U.S. currently has a trade surplus of about $85 billion due to the licensing of IP rights.” Playing such a vital role in the nation’s economy, the weakening of the patent system could prove have long term ramifications.

Patents also play a vital role in the startup community, particularly to tech-intensive startups. “Research shows that if a startup receives a patent, its chance of securing venture capital increases over 50% and it is likely to have better growth in employment and sales.” By addressing the declining United States patent system, the STRONGER Act seeks to strengthen the patent system as a whole, and to foster an environment where startup companies can continue to thrive.

As with all things politics, there are those with opinions on both sides of the issue. However, the STRONGER Act has largely been met with strong bipartisan support. Senator Coons said it best when he stated “Supporting American inventors is not a partisan issue…It is in our best interest both nationally and globally to ensure that our patent system works for everyone.”

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with any patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak to one of our patent attorneys please feel free to contact us.