Supreme Court must reinforce US as preeminent innovation superpower

Monday, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in a blockbuster case that could reshape the federal bureaucracy and constitutional law — and impact the U.S. innovation economy.

The case is Oil States v. Greene’s Energy, and it addresses whether Congress can create an administrative tribunal to invalidate the property rights secured to innovators — in this case, whether an agency called the Patent Trial & Appeal Board can cancel patents without having to follow the same rules as courts.

This administrative tribunal has been invalidating patents willy-nilly without respecting the basic constitutional rights of all U.S. citizens in their property. In Oil States, the Supreme Court will decide whether Congress has arbitrary power to create an equally arbitrary kangaroo court in the federal bureaucracy, and the fate of the U.S. innovation economy is at risk.

Many Americans learn in school about great inventors who revolutionized our lives with innovative products, such as Thomas Edison’s light bulb, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and the Wright Brothers airplane. What is less commonly known is that all of these inventions were patented.

Patents are property rights secured to inventors of new products or services. Stable and effective patent rights has fueled the U.S. innovation economy for over 225 years.

In 2011, Congress passed a new law that made significant changes to the U.S. patent system. Among many other changes, it created a new agency to invalidate “bad patents,” which were mistakenly issued and thus undermine the culture of innovation.

Unfortunately, it ended up doing the exact opposite. Rather than fixing the problem of bad patents, the board has created uncertainty for inventors and investors.

The board immediately engaged in overregulation and has invalidated thousands of patents in an overzealous hunt for bad patents. Innovators are subject to multiple challenges to their patents, as the board has made it very easy to harass or challenge owners of patents, regardless of whether the patents are good or bad.

Read more of this The Hill op-ed by Kristen Jakobsen Osenga by clicking here.

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