An Open Letter To The U.S. Senate:
We urge the Senate to oppose the passage of the pending US. Senate Bill S. 507. We hold that Congress, before embarking on a revision of our time tested patent system, should hold extensive hearings on whether there are serious flaws in the present system that need to be addressed and if so, how best to deal with them. This is especially important considering that a delicate structure such as the patent system with all its ramifications should not be subject to frequent modifications. We believe that S.507 could result in lasting harm to the United States and the world.
First, it will prove damaging to American small inventors and thereby discourage the flow of new inventions that have contributed so much to America's superior performance in the advancement of Science and Technology. It will do so by curtailing the protection they obtain thorough patents relative to the large multi-national corporations.
Second, the principle of prior user rights saps the very spirit of that wonderful institution that is represented by the American patent system established in the Constitution since 1787, which is based on the principle that the inventor is given complete protection but for a limited length of time, after which the patent, fully disclosed in the application and published at the time of issue, becomes in the public domain, and can be used by anyone, under competitive conditions for the benefit of all final users. It will do so by giving further protection to trade secrets which can be kept secret forever, while reducing the incentive to rely on limited life patents.
(Is it safe to say that these individuals probably wouldn't qualify as members of PTO Commissioner Bruce Lehman's "lunatic fringe"?)
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Originally posted 9/12/97