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Padilla: Patent Reform Supports Jobs and Economic Growth

Having just turned 100 years old last week, IBM has survived and thrived because of its strong commitment to research, invention and innovation. As a result, IBM deeply appreciates and understands the need for reforms to the U.S. patent system to help support jobs and economic growth — without costing taxpayers a dime.

From helping NASA send a man to the moon to inventing the Universal Product Code to creating Watson, the computer system that played and won on “Jeopardy!,” IBM’s breakthroughs are the product of a dedication to innovation that has generated more than 75,000 patents during our first century.

Almost six decades after our nation’s patent system was last updated, the House of Representatives is poised to vote on the America Invents Act, which, if signed into law, will bring essential and significant improvements to the U.S. patent system and balance the needs of inventors of all sizes in all industries.

IBM invests billions of dollars each year in research and development. For 18 consecutive years, IBM has received more U.S. patents than any organization.

Patents help us protect our significant investments in research and development and also provide freedom of action for our businesses across the world.

Securing and protecting the intellectual property rights resulting from innovation is essential to ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness.

Inventions increasingly are occurring in complex areas such as biotechnology and information technology, and it takes far too long for a patent application to make its way through the system. This is due, in part, to overwhelmed and overburdened examiners taking as many as three years or more to approve a patent.

The America Invents Act will provide the tools needed to reduce this backlog and improve the quality of patents granted to inventors.

The proposed patent bill in the House is largely consistent with the related Senate legislation, which was passed in a 95-5 vote.

The time is now to enact these common-sense reforms that address the concerns of all stakeholders and enhance patent quality.

We — lawmakers, stakeholders and industry leaders — finally have consensus on this issue after years of striving for a compromise. We now have reasonable, bipartisan legislation that will stimulate innovation, strengthen the economy and improve our competitiveness.

IBM joins other inventors in understanding and appreciating the importance of strong intellectual property laws. The America Invents Act represents the interests of inventors and innovators  large and small. Passage of this legislation would give our nation the world-class patent system it deserves, and the time to act is now.

Christopher A. Padilla is IBM’s vice president for government programs.

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