Engine Statement on Recent Attacks to our Patent System

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

"We agree with Director Iancu’s recent statements that the entire innovation economy is stronger when stakeholders engage in a productive dialogue rather than attacking the foundations of our patent system. In recent years, developments like the passage of the America Invents Act and the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS have significantly improved patent quality and startups have flourished with this increase in stability and predictability. The narrative being pushed by “small inventors” that our patent system is “in crisis” is entirely devoid of facts. The truth is that since 2012, after the passage of the America Invents Act, startup activity has increased by 194%, R&D spending is up 44%, and venture capital funding increased 86%. Engine supports the Director’s efforts to beat-back this false criticism.

While Engine has long had concerns with patent litigation abuses, the USPTO’s leadership in enhancing patent quality has been welcomed by the startup ecosystem. However, Engine is troubled by some of the recently proposed rulings coming out of the USPTO, including the reexamination of the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) standard for reading claims. The Patent Trial and Appeals Board should be allowed to read claims the same way that examiners read them when granting a patent. Additionally, new guidelines to examiners surrounding Section 101 and the Alice decision need to be very carefully tailored to ensure that more low-quality software patents are not granted.

Startups will continue to be engaged at the USPTO. Patent quality is more important than ever as the pace of innovation continues to accelerate. Maintaining a robust Patent Trial and Appeals Board as well as strong rules surrounding subject-matter eligibility are keys to ensuring that startups succeed."