Unions oppose bill with patent law changes

A union that represents about 6,000 patent examiners has called recent efforts in Congress to reform the patent and trademark system dangerous to American intellectual property.

The Patent Office Professional Association (POPA), along with 13 labor unions, expressed its opposition to the Patent Reform Act of 2007, which passed the House Jan. 24 and could come before the Senate in the near future.

In a letter to senators sent Feb. 6, the unions contended that proposed changes to the patent system may make it easier for international competitors to steal intellectual property. They cited proposed changes in how damages for patent infringement are calculated and provisions that would allow individuals to challenge the validity of established patents.

POPA President Robert Budens said these changes would “effectively outsource the search, allowing applicants to contract searches to anyone including foreign entities, bypassing U.S. statutory outsourcing protections.”

The letter also was signed by other trade and industry unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Steelworkers, and  International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

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