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Copyright 2006 Wake Forest University School of Law
Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal

ARTICLE: The American Inventor's Protection Act: A Legislative History

Winter, 2006

Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal

7 Wake Forest Intell. Prop. L.J. 142


Edward R. Ergenzinger Jr., Ph.D.+


I. Introduction

After four years of scathing debate, the final hours of the 1999 legislative session gave birth to a $ 390 billion omnibus spending bill that implemented the biggest changes to patent law since 1952. 2 The bill was subsequently signed into law as the American Inventor's Protection Act ("AIPA") by President Clinton on November 29, 1999, amid a flurry of denunciations and reprisals by the bill's opponents. 3 Chief among the bill's opponents were many independent inventors and their allies. Maintaining that independent inventors lost a battle but not the war, Steven Michael Shore, president of the Alliance for American Innovation, said, "Now there is a legitimate need for patent reform to correct the abuses that have been just recently written into law." 4 In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Nobel Laureate Franco Modigliani of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote, "The effort to rush through the Senate this questionable and potentially highly detrimental legislation is inexcusable." 5 Conservative writer Phyllis Schlafly ratcheted up the rhetoric with her own assessment that the true backers of the bill were "foreigners, whose motive is to steal U.S. intellectual property [and] the multinationals that want to control all innovation and therefore look upon independent inventors as their natural enemies." 6

Given the forceful opposition voiced by independent inventors and their allies, it is surprising to note that the origins of the AIPA date back to 1995, when Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced a bill as an ...
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