Patent protections have long powered U.S. innovation and economic growth. The average patent application takes three years to process, but current law lets inventors keep unpublished the details of their invention during that time, as long as the inventor pledges not to seek a foreign patent. The Trans Pacific Partnership would change the equation by requiring countries entering the agreement to “endeavor to publish unpublished pending patent applications promptly after the expiration of 18 months from the filing date.” If details of an invention are released before a patent is awarded, intellectual property thieves worldwide will stand to benefit from the work and investment of others. And because disclosing secrets before patenting makes the details “prior art,” U.S. inventors and investors won’t even gain their patent and thus be able to profit from their work.
Robust protections for intellectual property help sustain the American economy. Other countries have long work to undermine this advantage. Why would our leaders give them a hand by agreeing to weaker patent protections?