Utah Senators lead Congress in legislative scorecard

The morning sun illuminates the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Washington Oct. 19, 2023.
The morning sun illuminates the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Washington Oct. 19, 2023. | J. Scott Applewhite
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Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney have done more than nearly all of their colleagues to protect American innovation, according to a new congressional scorecard.

The Council for Innovation Promotion gave both Lee and Romney a “B grade” for promoting policies that shore up intellectual property laws in the U.S. to shield American inventors, entrepreneurs and businesses from illicit foreign competition.

Other congressional lawmakers need to follow suit, said David Kappos, the organization’s board co-chair. Nearly seven out of 10 lawmakers, including Utah’s four House delegates, received a grade of “C” or “C-,” which the organization says indicates a lack of interest in intellectual property legislation.

“America is slipping in its innovation leadership,” Kappos said.

America’s economy has historically been driven by innovation built on intellectual property laws, said Kappos, who previously served as the undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and as the director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

But countries like China have been able to stifle some of this growth by stealing American patents, hurting American businesses and manufacturing, Kappos said.

The ranking took into account legislative votes, bill sponsorship and public statements. During the last three Congressional terms, Romney supported bills modernizing trademark monitoring and patent law, and proposed policies to counter intellectual property theft by China.

“The Chinese Communist Party is on a quest to replace the United States as the world’s superpower, which is why it is so important that the policies we enact in Congress be looked at through the lens of U.S. competition with China,” Romney said in a statement to the Deseret News. “I’m proud to have introduced and supported efforts which encourage competitiveness, safeguard our intellectual property, and maintain our innovation edge over China.”

Protecting intellectual property rights is one of the responsibilities explicitly given to Congress in the Constitution, Lee told the Deseret News on Tuesday.

“We need to make sure that we do our job in that area,” Lee said. “An important part of the success of our country has been the protection of property rights.”