Fonar CEO testifies against proposed patent-law changes

November 8, 1995

Damadian seeks protection for inventorsFonar CEO Dr. Raymond Damadian last week sat before the Houseof Representatives subcommittee that oversees U.S. patent lawto testify against several bills that he argues would give multinationalcorporations

Damadian seeks protection for inventors

Fonar CEO Dr. Raymond Damadian last week sat before the Houseof Representatives subcommittee that oversees U.S. patent lawto testify against several bills that he argues would give multinationalcorporations unfair advantages over independent inventors.

This attack, according to Damadian, began with the General Agreementon Tariffs and Trade, the sweeping international economic treatysigned in 1993. Legislation that carried GATT through Congressincluded an amendment that dropped a provision giving inventorspatent rights for a 17-year period following the receipt of apatent. In the place of that standard, patent holders were given20 years of protection commencing from the patent application'sfiling date.

As a witness before the House subcommittee on intellectual property,Damadian testified that the change allows adversaries of smallinventors to use legal maneuvering to delay the issuance of apatent while the clock ticks toward its expiration.

Damadian threw his support behind HR 539, authored by Rep. DanaRohrabacher (R-CA). It would set patent lifetimes at 17 yearsfrom the date of issuance or 20 years from the date of filing,whichever is longer. Damadian warned that protection for smallinventors would be gutted without the passage of HR 539.

Damadian also opposed several bills under consideration thathe said would favor multinational companies at the expense ofsmall inventors. Support for the reforms stems mainly from Japanesemultinationals and American companies, including IBM, 3M and CaterpillarTractor, Damadian said. The Republican majority in Congress isdivided in its support of the proposals.

"All together, this web of patent legislation is a carefullyorchestrated design to render the U.S. patent useless and destroywhatever potential it may have left to initiate competitive newbusiness enterprises and new employment for the people of America,"Damadian testified.

Damadian urged the subcommittee to reject the bills, warningthat their passage would be calamitous for the U.S. economy. Thesubject of the hearings hit especially close to home for Damadian,who has been locked in a struggle with GE Medical Systems relatingto MRI patents.

"These bills before Congress can only be construed as aconcerted attack on the entire U.S. patent system, the overallpurpose of which is to mortally wound it," he said.