WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate has passed a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) and U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) to help small businesses protect their intellectual property by improving education on obtaining and protecting patents. The Small Business Innovation Protection Act will help leverage existing outreach programs run by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to better educate small businesses on domestic and international patents.

"Protecting intellectual property is especially important for Idaho, which ranks 6th in the nation in patents per capita and where thousands of small businesses rely on patents to protect the core of their business," said Senator Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "This legislation will make it easier to train and equip America's small business owners with the resources and information necessary to obtain and protect their patents."

“Small businesses across Michigan are creating innovative new products and services, but many business owners are unaware of how to protect their intellectual property in the global market,” said Senator Peters. “I’m pleased the Senate has passed this bipartisan bill that will help entrepreneurs better understand domestic and international patents so they can focus on growing their businesses and creating jobs.” 

The value of U.S. intellectual property is estimated at over $5 trillion, and sixty percent of U.S. exports come from intellectual property-intensive industries. Patent protection helps innovators recoup the cost of research and development, capitalize on their inventions, create jobs, and grow the economy.

Small businesses that do not register in foreign markets, such as China, receive no intellectual property protections. The Small Business Innovation Protection Act will help ensure small businesses are aware of the need and mechanisms available to accurately and effectively pursue an international patent.

The Small Business Innovation Protection Act will require the SBA and USPTO to leverage existing intellectual property education and training programs in order to reach more small businesses. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Require the SBA and USPTO to develop partnerships in order to develop high quality training relating to domestic and international patent protection by leveraging existing training materials developed for small business and inventor education, which may be conducted in person or online.
  • Require the SBA and USPTO to enter partnerships in order to increase the effectiveness of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) by providing training that addresses small business concerns related to domestic and international intellectual property protections which may be conducted in person or online.