Note: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) credits public pressure brought to
bear on Congress after his many appearances on talk radio and NET talk television
with the success of his effort to amend legislation that would , in his
view, seriously undermine America's global competitiveness and the work
of small U.S. inventors by changing America's patent system.
This document is a letter Rep. Rohrabacher sent to conservatives after the
legislation was voted on in the House. Since the mainstream media played
very little attention to this issue when it was voted on, this letter is
being posted on Capitol Link so that the many listeners and viwers of talk
TV and radio who got involved in this issue will know what transpired in
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
May 5, 1997
Dear Conservative Leader:
I want to personally thank you for your support during the continuing battle
over patent rights. On April 24, 220 Members of Congress voted for Marcy
Kaptur's pivotal amendment which included much of the language of my H.R.
811, the Patent Term Restoration Act. The amended bill still represents
a threat to America's technological edge, but through the Kaptur amendment
we have eliminated two of the bill's worst elements.
- We have severely reduced the risk in Title II, Publication, by exempting
small entities, independent inventors, and universities from general publication
... while still blocking the alleged threat from "submarine" patents
by giving more preemptive tools to the PTO Commissioner. However, the guaranteed
17 year patent term will not be restored by this bill.
- We have eliminated the substantial threat of endless challenges to an
American inventor's existing and future patents by deleting the greatly
expanded provisions of Title V, Reexamination.
- However, we have not deleted the provisions for Title III, Prior Domestic
Commercial Use, which is of particular concern to universities and small
businesses. This is very difficult to explain in laymen's terms.
- We also have not deleted the provision for a "Corporatized"
Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) with the built-in opportunities for improper
influence in PTO's quasi-judicial functions. We did secure some small gains
for the professional examiners in the PTO, but remain steadfast with them
in opposing the effort to sever the patent office from the federal government.
The battle now moves to the Senate. The sponsors of H.R. 400 have announced
their intention to gut the Kaptur Amendment in that body. We will request
our colleagues in the Senate to modify S.507 to include the Kaptur provisions,
and to deal with the other threats we did not delete in the House bill.
As it stands, S. 507 is much worse than the amended version of H.R. 400.
Unless the bill finally reported by the conference committee protects America's
inventors, small business, colleges and universities, we will ask you to
We didn't ask for a recorded vote on the House passage of H.R. 400, because
adoption of the Kaptur Amendment just before passage made it a quite different
bill than the version on which the battle lines had been drawn. Since that
will not be likely, with the final, conferenced version of H.R. 400, we
may well request a recorded vote on the conference report.
I thank you for your support on this issue, and ask you to stay the course
in the future.
Member of Congress