Washington, D.C. . – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following statement during the Committee’s markup of the Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act, H.R. 6758.  This bill would reauthorize the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO) authority to set fees for the services it provides and require the PTO to study and report to Congress on ways to close the gender, race, and income gap in patenting rates.

Chairman Goodlatte: The U.S. patent system was established to encourage companies to invest the time and money necessary to develop the innovative products that now set America apart from the rest of the world.  As a result, patents are responsible for the creation of countless jobs and contribute greatly to the growth of our economy.  In many areas of technology, patents help small companies secure the funding they so desperately need to grow.

By protecting inventions from theft by competitors, patents enable companies to unlock the genius of many of our most innovative American minds.  While American ingenuity is unparalleled, recent reports indicate that we have not adequately tapped into all that the American people have to offer.  For example, while U.S. women earn almost half of all undergraduate degrees in science and engineering, and 39% of all new PhDs in those fields, it is estimated that only between 20% and 10% of inventors listed on patents are women.  A 2017 study showed that racial minorities fair even worse.

We need full participation in our patent system, by each American with a great new idea, to realize the full potential of the American people.  By encouraging every American to invent and innovate, America can maintain its position as the world’s technology leader, and we can secure a brighter economic future for ourselves and our children.

To realize our full scientific and economic potential, the SUCCESS Act requires the United States Patent & Trademark Office, in collaboration with the Small Business Administration, to provide recommendations to Congress on how to increase the participation of women and minorities in entrepreneurship activities and the patent system.

As the purveyor of patents, the PTO plays a critical role in the development of new technologies and the growth of the U.S. economy.  The agency runs on fees it collects from patent and trademark applicants.  To ensure that the PTO has all of the resources it needs to properly examine patent applications and register trademarks, to study the issue of women and minority patenting, and perform the countless other activities it undertakes that are essential to maintaining America’s competitiveness, Congress needs to reauthorize the PTO’s authority to set its fees.

This bill would do just that, by extending for eight more years the PTO’s authority to set the amounts it charges for the services it provides to patent and trademark applicants.  The extension provided for in this bill will give the PTO the ability to conduct long-term planning, but because the authority will sunset unless reauthorized in eight years, the bill will also ensure effective oversight.

For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to support this important piece of legislation.