“Small businesses inventors are America’s golden goose. But the very group that is most productive for wealth creation and job creation receives only about one-eighth of its fair share of federal dollars.”
America’s small businesses have always been the backbone of the country’s economy, providing 64.9% of net new jobs. Main Street shops and restaurants play a very important part in providing paychecks. However, even more important are America’s inventors. The inventor/entrepreneur (“Inventorpreneur”) creates the technologies and jobs that stay in America and don’t move overseas to places like China. They usually do this by patenting their inventions and creating new companies. Intellectual property (IP) produces high paying jobs not only for scientists and engineers, but also for marketing and manufacturing managers, technicians, salespeople, artists, and others.
America’s Golden Goose
Patents (and their technologies) are strongly linked to both local economic growth and global competitiveness. IP-intensive industries support 27.9 million U.S. jobs and contribute $6.6 trillion dollars (38.2%) of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). They also have a 46% wage premium over non-IP-intensive industries. More importantly, intangible assets (mostly IP) account for about 80% of business equity and 84% of the value of the S&P 500.
More scientists and engineers work for small companies than for large companies, universities or federal labs. Small companies with fewer than 100 employees employ 35.7% of business’s scientists and engineers and 6% are self-employed; yet they receive less than 5% of the federal R&D dollars. Small businesses produce 20 times more patents per R&D dollar than universities and five times more than large businesses. This is important, as the Federal Reserve says that patents are the number one indicator of regional wealth, more important than education or industry specialization. Small businesses inventors are America’s golden goose. With 35.7% of the scientists and engineers, small businesses only receive about 4.5 % of the federal R&D dollars. Thus, the very group that is most productive for wealth creation and job creation receives only about one-eighth of its fair share of federal dollars.
There are currently about a million utility patent applications pending. Since about 22% of the U.S. patents are granted to micro and small business (including individual inventors), there are likely about 220,000 small business pending applications. Also, there were roughly about 400,000 utility patents issued to small business since 2015. However, recently, in part due to the Coronavirus pandemic, small business inventors are abandoning their patents at twice the normal rate.
Jumpstarting the Economy with ‘Inventorpreneur Grants’
As we look to jumpstart the economy, Congress and the White House should consider assisting small business and independent inventors. A $20,000 grant for each outstanding U.S. patent application (about $4.4 billion) and a $50,000 grant (about $20 billion) for each patent issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to American Inventorpreneurs since January 1, 2015, will provide about $24.4 billion to help create more high paying jobs, similar to those that Americans were used to before the creation of the “gig economy.” These grants (or forgivable loans) would be used for patent work (attorneys, agents, draftspersons, fees, and other incidental costs in obtaining or continuing U.S. or international patents), further research and/or development, manufacturing, scale-up, marketing, sales, and distribution of the company’s technology.
These Inventorpreneur grants (to be called “The Inventorpreneur Jobs Act”) will help provide the jobs we have been missing in the last decade. However, the economy will also require the passage of the STRONGER Patents Act by Congress. This bill reverses the weakening of our patent system caused by: 1) the America Invents Act (which created the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (which some have dubbed the “Patent Death Squads”); 2) the U.S. Supreme Court decision in eBay v. MercExchange (which eliminated injunctions, making most patents unenforceable by small businesses); and 3) Alice v. CLS Bank (which made many new technologies unpatentable, allowing China to leap ahead of the United States in patenting new technologies). Enacting the STRONGER Patents Act is absolutely essential if America wants to become “Great Again”.
It is time to pass legislation that will help reinvigorate the economy after the pandemic: the STRONGER Patents Act and the Inventorpreneur Jobs Act. It is time to unleash America’s job creators: the inventors. The Inventorpreneurs.
Note: Schmidt, as an inventor on over 40 patents himself and principal in patent holding manufacturing companies with over 200 patent assets, stands to benefit from the proposed Inventorpreneur Jobs Act. However, Schmidt is Co-Chair of the Small Business Technology Council, part of the National Small Business Association, which advocates for the over 5,000 businesses that participate in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The SBIR program produces more patents than all of America’s universities combined.
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