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So This is What it Takes to Get Congress To Act

September 7, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The patent-system-reforming “America Invents Act” looks set to sail through the Senate and be signed into law in a matter of days. Last night, the Senate voted 93-5 to move it forward towards a final vote on passage, with members on both sides of the aisle hailing it as a bipartisan jobs measure. Sen. Jon Kyl [R, AZ], for example, said on the Senate floor yesterday that the bill would create “a powerful incentive for manufacturers to build factories and create jobs in this country,” and Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] said it would “unlock the job-creating potential of each patent.”

Say what? Since when do Democrats and Republicans in the 112th Congress agree on a jobs bill? They’ve already failed to move forward with several jobs measures this year by getting caught up on unrelated, partisan issues, so what’s so special about the patent bill that everyone’s suddenly playing nice? I don’t really know the answer to that for sure, but what I do know is that the other jobs bills that died this year did not have any corporate backing. But this one, on the other hand…

Specific Organizations Supporting H.R.1249 

  • Biotechnology Industry Organization
  • Association of American Universities
  • American Council on Education
  • The Financial Services Roundtable
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • IBM
  • Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Coalition for Patent Fairness
  • Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform
  • Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America
  • General Electric
  • DuPont
  • Eli Lilly
  • Microsoft
  • Financial Services Rountable
  • American Bankers Association
  • American Insurance Association
  • Independent Community Bankers of America
  • Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association
  • United Steelworkers
  • National Treasury Employees Union
  • Intel
  • Pfizer
  • U. S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Air Products
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • National Association of Manufacturers
  • 3M
  • Abbott
  • Air Liquide
  • National Retail Federation
  • American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • AstraZeneca
  • BP
  • Baxter Healthcare Corporation
  • Beckman Coulter
  • Boston Scientific
  • Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Cargill, Inc.
  • Caterpillar
  • CheckFree
  • Cummins Inc.
  • Dow Chemical Company
  • Eastman Chemical Company
  • Electronics for Imaging
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • General Mills
  • Genzyme
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Henkel Corporation
  • Hoffman-La Roche
  • Illinois Tool Works
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Medtronic
  • Merck
  • Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Milliken & Company
  • Motorola
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Novartis
  •, Inc.
  • PepsiCo, Inc.
  • SanDisk Corporation
  • Texas Instruments
  • USG Corporation
  • United Technologies
  • Weyerhaeuser
  • Consumer Bankers Association
  • Credit Union National Association
  • American Financial Services Association
  • National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
  • Mortgage Bankers Association
  • American Council of Life Insurers
  • Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
  • Clearing House Association

That information comes from our Money Trail tab for the bill, using data and research from Maplight and OpenSecrets.

Those are some serious moneyed-interests, and they have been actively giving to members of Congress. Harry Reid, for example, took more than $3 million from special-interest groups supporting the patent bill in the 2010 election cycle. According to a Maplight analysis of a companion version of the bill that was voted on in March, senators, on average, took approximately $1.1 million in contributions from backers of the patent reform bill. Whether or not the patent bill ends up helping corporations create more jobs, it’s clearly going to help congressional incumbents keep theirs.

For an explanation of why the patent reform bill may favor big corporations over small, entrepreneurial inventors, see Clyde Prestowitz at FP. And for a good take on how Congress has been milking this bill for all the corporate money they can get, check out Zach Carter at HuffPo.

Sens. Leahy [D, VT] and Hatch [R, UT] are pictured above at a press conference announcing the introduction of the patent bill. 

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