Now that the federal tax reform is behind us, we want to bring your attention to another problem plaguing our country and our community: a weakened U.S. patent system.

Innovation has been a core value of the United States ever since our country’s founding and college campuses often serve as hubs for discovery. Patents are the bedrock of U.S. innovation and provide the bridge between cutting-edge research, solving worldwide problems, new business opportunities and providing an essential service. Patent rights have been enshrined in the Constitution since its inception, and inventions from the light bulb to the smartphone have driven economic development and have placed the United States at the forefront of innovation.

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Patent rights are protected in the Constitution. However, recent changes to U.S. patent laws have placed intellectual property rights at risk. Unfortunately, these recent changes to the patent system have made it harder for patent holders to defend their intellectual property from infringement and harassing lawsuits. The United States has dropped in ranking of best patent systems from 1st to 10th for the first time since the U.S. Chamber of Commerce began ranking patent systems. China is outpacing the United States in number of patents filed, and some American companies are even considering moving overseas to countries with stronger patent systems that will better protect their rights.

LSU has developed and patented hundreds of technologies that have significant commercial potential. As these technologies are licensed to companies in Louisiana and across the world, having a strong and dependable patent structure in our country is imperative to the ultimate success of the technologies developed at LSU.

At a time when the global economy is more competitive than ever, we cannot afford to lose the innovations that propel our economy and create potentially life-saving technologies. The STRONGER Patents Act is one way to strengthen the patent system that will protect inventors, startups and businesses so they can bring innovations to the market and improve our economy and our future.

Andrew J. Maas

assistant vice president for research, LSU 

David Winwood

associate executive director, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Baton Rouge