Fighting for Florida

Mr. President:

Due to health concerns of my mother, I was absent for roll call votes on Senate Joint Resolution 25 and on final passage of H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act, as amended by the House of Representatives.

Had I been present for the roll call vote on Senate Joint Resolution 25, I would have voted “yea.” I strongly disapprove of the surge in federal spending that has pushed our national debt to $14.7 trillion, and firmly believe that Congress must cut spending immediately and send a strict Constitutional balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification. We must also give job creators the certainty they need to hire new workers, expand operations -- growing the economy and increasing revenue in the process. Instead of pretending that more debt-financed spending will create prosperity, Congress should take job-destroying tax hikes off the table, overhaul our burdensome regulatory system, and immediately pass the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. 

Mr. President, had I been present for the roll call vote on final passage of H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act, as amended by the House of Representatives, I would have voted “nay” absent the adoption of both Amendment #599 offered by Senator Coburn related to “fee diversion” and Amendment #600 offered by Senator Sessions related to the 60-day period for application of patent term extension. H.R. 1249 is significantly different than the original Senate bill that I supported, and will ultimately not accomplish the goal of modernizing the patent process in the United States in the most effective manner.  

The patent process in our country is painfully slow and inefficient.  It takes years from the time an invention is submitted to the Patent and Trade Office (PTO) to the time that the patent is granted and the holder of the patent gains legal rights to their invention. Currently, there are over 700,000 patents waiting for their first review by the PTO.  I supported the original Senate bill, S.23, which would have ensured that the PTO was properly funded, reducing the time between the filing of a patent and the granting of the same.  This bill, which passed the Senate by a 95-5 margin on March 8, 2011, included critical provisions that would have ensured that user fees paid to the PTO would stay within the Office to cover its operating costs, rather being diverted to fund unrelated government programs.  

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives removed these important provisions, which were critical to securing my support for patent reform.  A modernized patent process that restricted “fee diversion” would have spurred innovation and job creation. Small inventors have raised concerns about the new patent processes that the bill sets forth, and without adequate protections against fee diversion, I am unable to support this bill.  Additionally, I have concerns about House language that resolves certain legal issues for a limited group of patent holders.  I support the underlying goals of this bill, but for the aforementioned reasons, I would have voted “nay” on H.R. 1249 had I been present.