The new documentary film “Innovation Race” makes the powerful case that communist China is now beating the United States at its own game by becoming the world’s repository of technology.
And that has profound implications for not only the U.S. but the world both economically and militarily.
It’s another Sputnik moment for America, experts say in “Innovation Race,” with the CCP poised to leapfrog the U.S. in the technological realm in key areas much as the Soviet Union did in the early years of the space race in the late 1950s and early 60s.
“That moment shocked America. It shocked it to its core that America could be defeated in some area of technological prowess,” Declan Ganley, an inventor and CEO of Rivada Networks said.
“It was a wake-up call. It mobilized the spirit of a nation to realize we need to meet, match and exceed this moment, and we need to put a man on the moon,” which the U.S. did in July 1969.
The U.S. finds itself needing to rise to the occasion again or face a very different future.
Gordon Chang, author of “The Great U.S.-China Tech War” said in the film, “Dominating technology means you dominate the economy of the world. Dominate the economy of the world, you dominate the world itself.”
And that’s China’s intention, he argued pointing to Beijing’s economic program, “Made in China 2025.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware concurs with Chang’s assessment.
“[Chinese President] Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party in the last five years have made it abundantly clear that they intend to not just compete with the United States. They intend to surpass us and to be the world leader in innovative technologies,” he said.
Watch the trailer below for “Innovation Race,” which won an “Excellence in Filmmaking Award” at the Anthem Film Festival in Las Vegas in June.
The United States actually opened the door for China, the world’s second-largest economy, to make its move toward global dominance thanks to the passage of the “America Invents Act” in 2011 during the Obama administration, according to “Innovation Race.”
The legislation had broad bi-partisan support, but its impact, perhaps unintentionally, was to weaken the nation’s patent system, which has been the gold standard for the world.
The U.S. Constitution — Article I, Section 8 — specifically grants Congress the authority to pass laws: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
“Patents just haven’t played an important role in growing our economy, they played a key role in developing the technologies that have made our country safe,” said retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding, III, author of “Stealth War: How China Took Over While America’s Elites Slept” (2019) and “War Without Rules: China’s Playbook for Global Domination” (2022).
“Innovation drives economic security and national security. We’ve lost sight of what it is to protect this nation,” added the former White House National Security Council senior director for strategic planning during the Trump administration.
Multiple experts in “Innovation Race” contended that China has assimilated the best of how the U.S. patent system used to work.
Ganley believes Beijing reasoned, “What if we don’t just steal the technology? What if we steal the system that America actually operated successfully and we implement it in China. What if we out America, America?”
Adam Mossoff, professor in the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, said China “adopted many of the features of our patent system before it began to become weakened. So you get effective enforcement of your patents rights in China. You get full damages, full licensing capability.”
China overtook the United States in 2018 as the place where most patents are filed globally, according to Forbes.
Venture capitalist Gary Lauder observed there is clearly a reason for the shift.
“The fact is that there many multinational companies have patents in the U.S., in Europe and in China who have chosen their venue of litigation. They’ve chosen China to go against other multinationals,” he said.
“What that means is they’re looked at all the justice systems around the world and they felt that they could get the greatest likelihood of winning in China, which tells you a lot about their system versus ours,” Lauder argued.
One of the biggest changes that were made to the patent system by the America Invents Act is establishing an administrative tribunal as part of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to review patent challenges, which is outside of the federal court system.
Judge Paul Michel — retired chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the nation’s patent court — said the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has great power to invalidate patents issued.
The America Invents Act, through the PTAB “greatly changed the enforcement of patent rights.”
Randy Landreneau, president of the company U.S. Inventor, says the PTAB lacks the due process a real court has and other factors that results in many more patents being invalidated.
“Eighty-four percent of the patents that go through the PTAB get fully or partially invalidated,” he noted.
Coons explained that under the PTAB system patents “are subject to repeated challenges so that a big company can just muscle its way over even the most valid patent by doing these repeat challenges.”
Lauder pointed out that it costs about a half a million dollars per case to defend the challenges per case.
Republican U.S. House Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who is himself an inventor, says the PTAB change has real-world consequences because it makes patents less certain.
“If you can’t protect your property, nobody wants to invest in it. You can’t get venture capital. You can’t get distribution channels, if people don’t believe you’re going to be able to protect your property,” he said.
“If we change our laws and dilute our intellectual property incentives, and China changes their laws and makes their intellectual property incentives even stronger,” as has happened, Massie argued, “they won’t need to steal our intellectual property anymore. Their intellectual property’s gonna be better than ours because they will reward the people who develop it.”
Coons introduced the “STRONG Patents Act” and Massie the “Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act of 2021” to reverse some of the harmful changes to patent law brought about by the America Invents Act and some Supreme Court rulings.
Tea Party Patriots Action and Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and president of Tea Party Patriots, are the executive producers of “Innovation Race.”
“Our founding fathers were very direct in their desire to both inspire and protect the innovations and ideas of American citizens. We felt compelled to share the stories of not only how inventors are being impacted by these issues with patent protections, but the incredible threat our country faces if this course is not corrected,” Martin said in a news release concerning the film.
“We hope ‘Innovation Race’ is both a call to action and a reminder that we cannot take our freedoms for granted.”
“Innovation Race” is set to premiere In Washington, D.C., later this month followed by a theatrical release later this fall.
Learn more about the film here.