Florida motorcycle windshield inventor Mark Stadnyk plans to take his lawsuit against a change in federal patent law all the way to the Supreme Court.
“Others took on Obamacare, and this is my fight,” the Florida inventor told the New York Times. “Somebody’s got to do something.”
U.S. patent law has traditionally operated under the “first to invent” principle, where lab notes and early prototypes establish the date of the invention.
The America Invents Act, passed and signed into law last fall, will change this to a “first to file” principle, where the date is established by the patent application. This system is used by the rest of the world. Critics argue it gives big, established companies with large legal teams and vast resources to navigate paperwork a considerable advantage.
Intellectual property attorney Kevin Conneely of Minneapolis-based law firm Leonard Street and Deinard spoke with The Daily Caller News Foundation about the patent law changes.
“One benefit that is touted,” Conneely told TheDC News Foundation, “is that it will bring the American patent system in line with the patent system in other countries where they have the first to file system.”
The benefit, he explained, is the “certainty of knowing who was at the patent office first rather than having potential disputes about what happened in a laboratory or our in the field.”
Stadnyk maintains that “a patented idea [is] a uniquely human property right,” writes the NYT.
“It came out of your mind,” he explained. “It’s not property you bought or inherited.”
Stadnyk adds, “My property would be given away by the government under this new law.”
The impetus for the change was the desire to utilize new inventions sooner, cutting red tape and putting people back to work. The eventual law, however, “was a byproduct of years of lobbying and eventual compromise, especially by major technology and pharmaceutical companies,” the NYT reports.
While Stadnyk says that he is a conservative, the law has drawn criticism from the left and the right alike. His counsel for this suit worked on the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore on behalf of Al Gore.
California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer spoke out against the bill during debates.
“I strongly disagree with changing the core principle of our patent system — awarding a patent to the true inventor — for the sake of perceived administrative ease,” she said last year on the Senate floor.
“This law favors large companies at the expense of small ones,” Gary Lauder, a venture capitalist, said. “There wasn’t enough advocacy for unborn companies. And partly as a result of our current patent system, we do have a huge amount of innovation in America.”
“Looking at it, its going to make people more rigorous about getting to the patent office,” said Conneely. “And people with more resources are going to be able to speed up that process so I could see how the small inventor or the individual could feel like they’re at a disadvantage.”
The legal battle faces long odds, according to legal experts, and typically the courts have left issues of intellectual property up to congressional interpretation. Conneely told TheDC News Foundation that it seems more of a symbolic case than a practical one.
“I’m scared that this law is a threat to the survival of our species — people who do fundamental, long-term invention,” high-tech inventor and entrepreneur of Silicon Valley Stephen Perlman remarked.
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