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Patent Reform in Name Only

September 12, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Congress has a funny way of handling things sometimes. There's a jobs crisis? I know, lets pass a "jobs bill." The health care system sucks? How about a new "healthcare reform bill?" The financial sector is too big and interconnected? I know, let's pass a "financial reform bill." It's as if passing bills is more important to them than solving the problems.

Such is the case with the patent reform bill that the Senate passed last week and is now awaiting Obama's signature. Obviously, the patent system is totally broken. It's a system that was established under the Constitution to get inventors to share their ideas so that others could build on them and innovate. But it has turned into a massive scam, supporting shadow companies that don't make anything but hoard the rights to ideas so they can sue companies that do make things. These companies are commonly referred to as "patent trolls," and they are bad for innovation and bad for jobs. Yet the patent reform bill that is about to be passed into law doesn't do anything about them.

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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 93-5to 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…

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The Week Ahead in Congress

September 6, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Can Washington do anything to help create jobs? The August recess is finally over and it's time for Congress to take up their promised "pivot to jobs." If there is a will in Washington to put aside the partisanship and pass legislation to get the hiring cycle churning again, they'll make some progress this work period. But don't hold your breath -- despite the terrible August jobs numbers, all signs still point to gridlock.

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First up in the big pivot to jobs that's going to sweep Washington when Congress comes back from August recess is H.R.1249, the "America Invents Act." The bill isn't exactly a response to the current unemployment crisis; it's designed to streamline the U.S. patent system, and it's been sitting around in Congress in various forms since 2005. Supporters of the bill even admit that job creation would be a "happy byproduct," not the main focus.

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