Inventors Voice [tm] Logo



SPECIAL SUMMARY REPORT

THE GREAT DEBATE

FIRST-TO-INVENT vs. FIRST-TO-FILE

and the

INTERNATIONAL HARMONIZATION TREATY





TABLE OF CONTENTS

Home

Important
Instructions
for: Duplication,
Distribution, Use of
Information


Introduction

I.
Credits


II.
Foreword


III.
WSJ Article


IV.
Synopsis-Europe
Legislation


V.
Synopsis-U.S.
Legislation


VI.
Key Questions
#1 / #2 / #3 / #4
#5 / #6 / #7 / #8
#9 / #10 / #11 / #12 #13 / #14 / #15

VII.
Arguments & Rebuttals
At-A-Glance


VIII.
Closing Comments &
Recommendations


IX.
Notes



YOUR VOICE COUNTS:
  • Your Voice Counts
  • Instant Action Plan
  • Print Articles
  • IV. KEY QUESTIONS: #4

    WHO INNOVATES IN THE UNITED STATES? AND WHAT IS THIS GROUP'S SIGNIFICANCE TO THE ECONOMY?

    It is important to note that there are two types of inventor:

      1) those employed by large, well-financed corporations with access to a sophisticated in-house program designed to achieve the best patent protection for the corporation; and

      2) independent or small business inventors who are often poorly financed and have varying degrees of knowledge about the patent laws or procedures.

    According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) special report "Issue Alert, Innovation in Small Firms" for delegates to the national White House Conference on Small Business,

      "Large businesses, because of their size and widespread acceptance of their brand names, are often considered the originators of new processes or innovative products...However, research does not support the assumptions that size or market power enables large firms to lead in innovation...Research funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration(SBA) shows that many of today' large producers may have capitalized on the innovation of a small firm.

      "In fact, only 0.3% of all U.S. firms -- fewer than 15,000 firms -- have more than 500 employees and are considered large businesses. The remaining 99+ percent are considered small businesses.

      "In a 1982 study by the Futures Group of Glastonbury, Connecticut...small firms were estimated to be responsible for 55% of the approximately 8,000 innovations, which included innovations of different levels of significance."
    And U.S. Patent and Trademark statistics indicate that 45% of all U.S. origin patents are filed by the small entity and independent inventor, with only 30% filing foreign patents.

    The United States Department of Commerce Technical Advisory Board in 1967 stated in the report entitled, "Technology Innovation: It's Environment and Management",

      "independent inventors and small technologically based companies are responsible for a remarkable percentage of the important inventions and innovations of this century.

      "The report pointed out that Professor Jewkes had studied 61 of the most important inventions and innovations of the 20th century, finding that over half of them stemmed from independent inventors or small firms.

      "Further, Professor Daniel Hamburg of the University of Maryland, studied major inventions made during the period of 1946 to 1955 and found that over 2/3 of them resulted from the work of independent inventors and small companies.

      "The work of Professor Merton Peck of Harvard was also reported; he had studied 149 inventions in the aluminum industry; major producers accounted for only 1 out of 7 important inventions.

      "Professor John Enos of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had studied 7 major inventions in the refining and cracking of petroleum, all 7 were made by independent inventors."

    Why then, in the face of such overwhelming evidence in support of the small business and independent inventors' important contributions to society, do they remain society's least appreciated and recognized natural resource?

    Part of the reason is that often, an inspiration strikes the least likely candidate irrespective of age, race, creed, vocation, education, sec, location, etc.

    For example, "The father of photography was an army officer, and of the electric motor a book binder's clerk. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph was a portrait painter; and of the jacquard loom, a dressmaker. A farmer invented the typewriter; a poet, the sewing machine; a cabinet maker, the cotton gin; and a coal miner, the locomotive. The telephone was the after-school work of a teacher of the deaf; the disc talking machine, the night work of a clothing salesman; the wax cylinder phonograph, a lawyer's clerk; the typesetting machine, a grocery man. A physician made the first pneumatic tire because his little son was an invalid. (7) Fulton, an artist, invented the steamboat.

    Most recently, two young men, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, made history by not only revolutionizing the business world, but creating an entire new industry that spans the globe, the personal computer (PC), which was started in their garage using spare parts.

    Researchers have documented the strong motivation of the inventor-entrepreneur: financial rewards are reinforced by the desire for independence, the creative drive, and the need for recognized achievement. (8)

    And the role of small business is intricately connected with the U.S. economy, since these small firms include 1/23 of all private sector employment and about 39% of private sector gross domestic product. Labor Secretary Lynn Martin recently said:

      "What we're seeing now is two out of three new jobs are created not by big corporations, but by small and medium-size businesses..."

    The SBA report concludes,

      "The small business sector is an important participant in technological innovation, which contributes to a large share of economic growth."

      "No industry today can be singled out as the wave of the future. However, small businesses in many industries will certain continue to test ideas, products, and processes. Some of those businesses and ideas will succeed, while others will fail. Through this dynamic process, innovation will continue to contribute to the growth of a healthy economy.

      "It is in the interest of the U.S. economy, therefore, that all firms, small and large, have the opportunity to profit from innovative activity...Creating a fully competitive environment for small firms that yield a large social payoff."
    Harry Manbeck*, then the new U.S. Patent Commissioner, officially confirmed the previous day, stated in a speech on May 10, 1990 at the Third Annual Conference of Inventors and Entrepreneurs:

      "By encouraging inventing, we maintain the force that has made America a great nation. It's that incentive of rewards that encourages inventors to create and entrepreneurs to become businessmen.

      Our standard of living is raised when people are encouraged to invest money in new ideas and new technology."
    SPECIAL NOTE: It is interesting to observe Commissioner Manbeck's change of position through the passage of time. The above statement was made on his first day of office, May 1990.

      Seven months later, journalist Don Kowet quoted Manbeck in The Washington Times and Insight Magazine, December 1990, as saying that in regards to changing the U.S. patent law to "First-to-File", he was "not aware of anyone in Congress taking any action at this time."

      Six months later, in the first official session of a diplomatic conference held in the Hague, Netherlands to negotiate the "Harmonization Treaty" of worldwide patent laws (see Synopsis: Europe Legislation) in June, 1991, Commissioner Manbeck stated: "what now faces the United States negotiators...is the task of convincing our various interest groups and the U.S. Congress that the present package is still of overall benefit to U.S. interests. This will be difficult to do because the text that has evolved during this first session of the Diplomatic Conference presents a shift away from U.S. interests."

      And most recently in a Wall Street Journal article, April 6, 1992, Commissioner Manbeck states, "the U.S. is prepared to give up its traditional first-to-invent method for awarding patents if other countries agree to make their patent practices less obstructive to U.S. applicants."

      The article also reports that Commissioner Manbeck is leaving his post by the end of April, 1992.

      In a little under two years, Patent Commissioner Manbeck, Jr. went from recognizing and encouraging inventors -- to using their rights, "First-to-invent" as a bargaining chip in negotiations under the auspices of the "Harmonization Treaty".

    [ Back to top ]