U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 34th Annual Awards Gala at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, September 14, 2011. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool | License Photo
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- The America Invents Act, which reforms patent law, will help bring more inventions to market and make the United States more competitive, President Obama said.
Obama, during a signing ceremony Friday at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., said the country has "always succeeded because we have been the most dynamic, innovative economy in the world. That has to be encouraged."
The act will help the United States be more competitive in the long term, he said.
Obama was introduced by senior Rebecca Hyndman, who received a patent last year for her under-floor storage invention, which provides hidden storage space beneath the tiles of a kitchen or bathroom.
During the last decade, patent applications have nearly tripled, but the Patent Office, lacking resources, hasn't been able to keep up, Obama said.
"[Right] now, there are about 700,000 applications that haven't even been opened yet," Obama said. "Now, these are jobs and businesses of the future just waiting to be created. … And somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug, the next idea that will launch the next Fortune 500 company."
The nation "can't afford to drag our feet any longer, not at a time when we should be doing everything we can to create good, middle-class jobs that put Americans back to work," Obama said. "We have to do everything we can to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit wherever we find it."
At its core, the America Invents Act changes the U.S. patent system from a "first-to-invent" system, which could lead to arguments and litigation, to a "first-to-file" system, the White House said. The act, passed by large bipartisan majorities in both congressional houses, also makes the patent process three times faster.
The new patent law encourages innovation and other steps can be taken, Obama said.
"Today, for example, my administration is announcing a new center that will help companies reduce the time and cost of developing life-saving drugs," he said. "When scientists and researchers at the National Institutes of Health discover a new cure or breakthrough, we're going to make it easier for start-up companies to sell those products to the people who need them."
He said more than 100 universities and companies agreed to work together to bring more inventions to the market as quickly as possible.
"And we're also developing a strategy to create job in biotechnology, which has tremendous promise for health, clean energy and the environment," he said.
He used the bill signing and appearance at the high school to push again for his American Jobs Act, which would extend unemployment benefits and the payroll tax break, provide tax breaks for small businesses and tax relief for the middle class, among other things.
Changing the patent laws "is part of our agenda for making us competitive over the long term," Obama said. "But we've also got a short-term economic crisis, a set of challenges that we have to deal with right now. And what the American Jobs Act does is, it puts more people back to work and it puts more money into the pockets of working Americans."
All provisions in his measure have been supported by Democrats and Republicans previously, and everything in the bill is paid for, he said.
"I want Congress to pass this jobs bill right away," he said, urging members to set aside politics.
"We came together to pass patent reform," Obama said. "We should be able to come together to also put people back to work."