Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Some of the voices expressing concern about the Innovation Act have suggested the proposed law would weaken U.S. patent protections, putting them more on par with countries like China.

Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, recently made that point in an opinion piece he penned for The Washington Times.

“Our system of patent protection is what sets the United States apart from nations like China and India,” he wrote. “In those countries, theft of intellectual property is rampant, statutory protections for intellectual property are weak or nonexistent, and courts are notoriously hostile to small inventors.

“If we water down our patent system and give up our competitive advantage, America will cease to be a global hub for innovation,” he added.

Ironically, one of the companies now throwing its support behind the legislation is based far for America’s shoreline — in China, in fact.

ZTE Corp., China’s largest telecommunications equipment company, announced this month it is joining the United for Patent Reform coalition in the United States that is lobbying for the Innovation Act.

“Technology innovation is central to ZTE’s business, as evidenced by our expanded patent portfolio of more than 60,000 patents filed. This commitment to patent research allows us to deliver award-winning products to consumers and thus grow our business globally,” said Lixin Cheng, chairman and CEO of ZTE’s U.S. arm. “We hope that by joining other companies who share our mutual respect for intellectual property in the United for Patent Reform [coalition], we can encourage others to use their resources to develop new and innovative products for the consumer.”

The company’s announcement made clear its reason for supporting the reform: “ZTE is constantly faced with upwards of 50 patent cases brought against the company at any given time by patent-assertion entities which have no intent to manufacture products.”

ZTE said it was joining the fight to change U.S. patent law to “create a system that fosters innovation and investment that benefits the American economy.”

Critics of the legislation are likely to seize upon ZTE’s role in the lobbying effort to raise concerns about foreign interference in the American patent market.

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