Engine Statement on House Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing of USPTO Director Iancu

The following statement can be attributed to Engine's Policy Director, Rachel Wolbers 

"Engine was encouraged to see the House Judiciary Committee conduct an oversight hearing today with USPTO Director Iancu. As an organization that advocates on behalf of startups, we fully support Congress and the USPTO working together to increase patent quality. Startups do not want to see the USPTO undo the progress that Congress and the Supreme Court have made in recent years to improve our patent system.

It is clear from the Director’s statements made today that Congressional oversight is needed to protect the Patent Trial and Appellate Board procedures, including the Inter Partes Review (IPR) process, which was established by the America Invents Act in 2011. IPR is a crucial tool for startups to challenge low quality patents in a cost-effective and efficient process. The Director should work to strengthen IPR which enhances innovation by improving patent quality and reducing litigation. Unfortunately, his recent rulemaking actions and statements today show the USPTO is headed in the wrong direction.     

Additionally, we strongly disagree with the notion that Section 101 of the Patent Act is unclear or needs updating. The Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS has significantly improved patent quality, and startups have flourished with this increase in stability and predictability. Since the Alice decision, R&D spending in the software industry has grown and outpaced other industries and the number of U.S. patent filings continues to rise. Venture capital funding for startup software and internet companies in the three years following the Alice decision increased by 88% compared to the three years prior. The Director is wrong to suggest that Section 101 needs a legislative update and we hope that Congress will continue to hold the Director accountable."