The U.S. Department of Commerce found that IP-intensive industries create 27.1 million jobs and indirectly support another 12.9 million jobs, nearly 30 percent of all U.S. jobs. There is no question that innovation is what drives our economy. The development of new technologies creates jobs here at home and cements our position in the world as a leader in the creation of intellectual property. But innovation may slow if we cannot protect the intellectual rights of creators and entrepreneurs. We must do all we can to promote American innovation through intellectual property protections.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, I work to protect intellectual property such as patents and copyright, which contributes greatly to our state and local economy. We rely greatly on the development, protection, and enforcement of intellectual property since the production of content like movies, music, books, and software is critical to growing California’s job market and overall economy.
The subcommittee has jurisdiction over patents, copyrights, trademark, information technology and U.S. Courts. The subject matters are so broad that I deal with issues ranging from copyright protection for film and music, consumer privacy on the Internet, and patents for technological devices. The issues that I handle day in and day out have major implications for our country and I am privileged to be your representative on this subcommittee.
To ensure that creative works are a part of the legislative debate in Congress, I, along with Congressman Howard Coble (R-NC), the Chairman of the IP Subcommittee, launched the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus. This bipartisan caucus includes 54 members spanning both ends of the political spectrum. We started this caucus because we see a need to advocate for the rights of individual creators. The caucus will strive to educate Members of Congress and the general public about the importance of preserving and protecting the rights of the creative community in our country. American creators of motion pictures, music, software, books, visual arts and others rely on Congress to protect their creative rights, human rights, First Amendment rights, and property rights. I pledge to drive home the critical message that creative rights matter.
I believe that Congress needs to ensure that our patent system continues to promote innovation and job creation – not abusive litigation practices. This is why I voted for H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act, which would protect our nation’s patent system while improving incentives for future innovation.
Abusive patent litigation cost the US economy an estimated $29 billion in 2011 alone. I authored a letter along with Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) that urged the Federal Trade Commission to take a more proactive approach in protecting businesses, consumers and other downstream users of technology who have been sued by entities that seek to abuse our nation’s patent and court system.
In addition, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and I introduced the Stopping the Offensive Use of Patents (STOP) Act, which helps businesses defend themselves from abusive entities by giving them a faster, cheaper alternative to litigation. The STOP Act allows businesses who have been targeted by a low quality business method patent to challenge the validity of that patent that the US Patent and Trademark Office.
I have consistently pushed for robust funding for state and local law enforcement departments so they can prevent, investigate, and prosecute intellectual property crimes. Without a doubt, the innovation of new technologies promotes economic growth by creating thousands of American jobs. However, many of these jobs are at risk due to intellectual property theft. California’s economic recovery has been slower partly because Los Angeles County lost $5.2 billion in economic activity stemming from intellectual property theft in just one year alone. Not only must we create legislation to help individuals gain intellectual property rights, but we must also ensure that our laws are strong enough to protect these rights.
At a time of record unemployment, and with three-quarters of our economic growth tied to American innovation and intellectual property, the need to overhaul our outdated patent system had never been greater. The world around us had modernized their patent systems to reflect the competitive nature of the global economy, while we in the U.S. were using a patent system that had not been updated in 60 years. That’s why I proudly voted in favor of the America Invents Act, a law that modernizes our outdated patent system and enables American business to stay here, develop here, and create more products here.
This important law also included an amendment I authored that makes the complicated process of getting a patent a little easier for independent inventors. Now the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will work with intellectual property law associations across the country to establish pro bono programs to help independent inventors file patent applications under the modernized system. These innovators play a special role in our economy and it is imperative that we in Congress do everything possible to support their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.