In Defense of Software (Patentability)

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation (as seen originally on Patent Progress)

A few weeks ago I was asked to speak at my daughter’s 8th grade honors science class, regarding the weighty topics of “patents and innovation.” They are in the middle of a unit on inventions and they have to invent something as part of that class.  As I prepared my slides on interesting topics (to me) like “how Morse used the existing ideas of an electromagnet to solve the problems of instantaneous communication as illustrated in the beacon scene of the Lord of the Rings,” the thought occurred to me that the principles from these legendary inventions illustrate why the software patentability debate of today is disconnected with our country’s history of innovation.

Samuel Morse did not discover the abstract idea that running an electric current through a wire wrapped around iron transforms the previously nonmagnetic iron into a very powerful electromagnet.  Others had discovered this concept (though it was still a recent discovery in 1852).  Morse combined the principle of electromagnetism with his own, intangible, idea, that you can use a code to deliver messages that would reduce the number of wires required to transmit the message, and print the result on paper.  Other solutions required many wires, or used moving needles in scopes at the end to reveal the message.  Morse’s invention increased the practicality of using electromagnetism to solve the problems of instantaneous communication.

He first had an idea, the use of electromagnetism in a particular way, and then had animplementation, one that fit the medium of his idea, in this case, wires and metal and ink. Samuel Morse’s code was an intangible concept indeed, but was deemed patentable even in 1852, as implemented in his telegraph machine, for telegraphic purposes.

The main thrust of the argument against the patentability of software is that a software program, like an algorithm, describes nothing more than an “abstract idea.”  This argument has as its corollary the notion that patentable subject matter only can be found in an invention in something “tangible.”   Patents for intangible things (like an algorithm implemented in software) are conflated with patents on purely abstract ideas (like “time travel” or “electromagnetism”), and therefore, neither category should be patentable.  In reality, though, all ideas and inventions are at their very core intangible concepts.  It is when the inventor actually implements an idea in the medium best suited for its execution that the invention enters the realm of patentable subject matter.  Software is no different than any other medium, and inventions made in software are as deserving of patent protection as inventions anywhere else.

Every patent has a similar story as Morse’s.  In today’s world, the medium in which many of our inventions manifest themselves is software.  These software-implemented inventions typically are executed by a general purpose processor, coupled to a general purpose memory, often coupled to a network.  Instead of being implemented in software, these inventions could be constructed using specialized circuitry, or directly in silicon, or by some specific network topology to accomplish their means.  However, there would be nothing patentable about those implementation mediums (circuitry, silicon, or network topology) in the fulfillment of the inventions.  Nor was there anything patentable about the mediums of Morse’s iron, wire, and ink, or Thomas Edison’s carbon, electricity, and glass.  Instead, it was the ideas animating the use of those mediums to solve their problems (the “algorithms” as it were), that made those discoveries patentable.

If all inventions are intangible at their core, when should an idea be considered to be unpatentably abstract?  In the seminal case of O’Reilly v. Morse, the Supreme Court found Morse’s eighth patent claim, for the use of electro-magnetism however developed for printing letters at any distances, to be drawn to an abstract idea, and thus unpatentable.  Morse, for that one claim, explicitly stated his invention was not bound by the details of his specification.  In finding this claim unpatentable, the Court articulated the basis on which to determine whether an abstract idea is patentable subject matter:

Whoever discovers that a certain useful result will be produced, in any art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, by the use of certain means, is entitled to a patent for it; provided he specifies the means he uses in a manner so full and exact, that any one skilled in the science to which it appertains, can, by using the means he specifies, without any addition to, or subtraction from them, produce precisely the result he describes. And if this cannot be done by the means he describes, the patent is void. And if it can be done, then the patent confers on him the exclusive right to use the means he specifies to produce the result or effect he describes, and nothing more.

The Court stated that, to determine whether an idea is abstract, the focus should be on whether the invention is disclosed and claimed fully and exactly.  An inventor can secure a patent in any art on any useful result, the Court says, as long as the exact means for accomplishing that result is specified.  The nature of the invention is irrelevant.

And it makes no difference, in this respect, whether the effect is produced by chemical agency or combination; or by the application of discoveries or principles in natural philosophy known or unknown before his invention; or by machinery acting altogether upon mechanical principles. In either case he must describe the manner and process as above mentioned, and the end it accomplishes. And any one may lawfully accomplish the same end without infringing the patent, if he uses means substantially different from those described.

The key question to understanding whether an idea is abstract, the Court says, is whether or not the inventor described the process in sufficient detail to allow others to achieve the same ends without infringing the patent if they use substantially different means.

We see so often under current law that the “claims are not bound to the specification.”  But why shouldn’t they be?  Samuel Morse’s code was found to be patentable because, in his other claims which lacked the explicit disclaimer of linkage to his specification, the Court limited their breadth to his disclosure. This makes sense. There is no sound policy reason to grant monopolies to people for implementations beyond the scope of their invention.  Unfortunately, patents today are allowed to have claim scopes defined by their relation to the prior art (or, more accurately, the prior art found at the time of examination), and are not grounded by any of the details in their specification.  Breaking the connection between claims and the specification has resulted in the rise of vaguely drafted patents that are the source of the patent troll suits. With no meaningful constraints imposed by the description of the invention itself, the patent trolls are free to make their abstract claims apply to all.

In response, many blame software itself as the cause of these meritless suits, and invoke Section 101 to simplistically assert that software related inventions are just too abstract to be patented.  But from both a technical and a legal perspective, this argument of convenience is plainly not correct.  Software is merely the medium by which the inventions of today are implemented.  If an invention, in software or in any other field, is for a “useful result” and specifies the means described in sufficient detail so full and exact that anyone skilled in the science can produce the same result, the invention should be considered to be more than an abstract idea.  If such disclosure is lacking, then the claim is invalid.  It is either for an idea that is too abstract, or described too abstractly.

If we bring our Section 112 jurisprudence in line with the doctrine articulated by the Morse Court, I believe we can rid our system of abstractly drafted patents. And stricter application of Section 103 will further curb the grant of software patents whose sole claim to novelty is that they implement ancient concepts in the new medium of software.  Both of these measures will appropriately shift the patentability focus from the medium to the method disclosed.

The teenagers in that 8th grade science class told me all sorts of cool ideas (which I can’t disclose), and most typically the medium of their inventions was software.  Let’s ensure the patent system continues to protect the inventors of the next generation, in whatever medium they choose to invent.

Adobe Joins President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative

Posted by Trevor Bailey, Senior Director for Education

Today, I’m fortunate to be visiting the East Room of the White House to be with the winners of the first-ever White House Student Film Festival and their parents, along with cool celebrities like Kal Penn and Conan O’Brien. Without a doubt, this is one of the best things about my job at Adobe – seeing  what students are creating with digital media tools. The winning videos lined up for today will undoubtedly be impressive.

Unleashing creativity in all students and teachers is critical as we prepare this generation for the careers of the future. Today’s students live in an increasingly digital and visual world and must do more than just consume digital media. They must create it in order for their ideas to take shape and their voices heard.

Today, Adobe is happy to announce that it is joining the Department of Education and the President’s ConnectED initiative by making world-class creative tools available to schools across the country, along with innovative professional development and curricular resources to educators. Adobe has committed over $300 million to help advance digital learning, teaching, and administration in 15,000 U.S. schools.

This is a continuation of Adobe’s longstanding commitment to education. Over the past 20 years, Adobe has empowered K12 teachers and students and celebrated their creativity:

The Adobe Education Exchange is the largest online community of creative educators. 127,000 teachers from across the globe connect with each other, learn from free professional development, and explore standards-based resources.

WH Film Festival 4
Adobe Youth Voices is the Adobe Foundation’s global initiative to ignite young people’s creativity through the power of storytelling with digital media. Youth develop original media that highlights an issue they care about, identify solutions, and in the process, foster critical creative skills and a passion to make a difference. Since the program’s launch, more than 5,000 educators and 150,000 youth from over 58 countries have developed original, thought-provoking digital media.

Adobe applauds the President’s bold vision for U.S. schools. We share ConnectED’s goal that all students should have access to the world of ideas and the tools they need to build the future.

Davos 2014: A View from the World Economic Forum

Posted by Bryan Lamkin, Senior Vice President of Technology and Corporate Development

I recently returned to California from a fantastic visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was my first time at Davos, and everything you have heard is true—it is an opportunity to cram a year’s worth of conversations into a few days, and talk directly to amazing thinkers. I am still digesting the discussions, with European and Asian government officials, representatives from the nonprofit and educational sectors, and other business people like me. The news media did a nice job of reporting the major themes that came out of the discussions at Davos. However, there were several interesting themes I picked up on that weren’t widely reported. Let me share a few.

First, Tom Friedman may have taught us all that The World Is Flat eight years ago—an eon ago in Internet time—but the insights in his book are as fresh as ever. Even the bankers were talking about the opportunities presented as the population of the developing world gets online and educated at an unprecedented rate. What this means for Adobe: we need to make sure that we are offering products and services that perform well in all countries where we are able to operate, and not just in our traditional developed-world markets. We believe Adobe provides the world’s best tools for creative people to express their ideas, and we have a responsibility to enable as many people as possible to have access to our tools, via whatever devices and Internet connections are available. As my colleague David Wadhwani has described in the past, Adobe’s role is to help people tell their stories. And, of course, the Cloud and the lower price points of the subscription business model gives Adobe a mechanism to reach customers in the developing world that we couldn’t before with a traditional sales model and the drain of software piracy.

Second, as I took in lectures and presentations, I was struck by the importance of communications skills. One can have the most jaw-dropping research findings, but, unless the ideas are conveyed with impact and creativity, they fall on deaf ears. Really, the whole Davos experience, in which government officials are mixed with artists, explorers, academics, and musicians, is a recognition of the power of creativity. I had a number of conversations with government officials about STEAM – how the addition of the Arts to STEM (a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math curriculum) can pay huge dividends. Research shows that adding that “A” can help cultivate better problem solving skills, more academic engagement, and, of course, better communication.

Finally, governments around the world are increasingly aware of the need to engage citizens online. Many government officials realize the unprecedented opportunity at their disposal in assisting their constituents electronically. Whether it is the astounding technological advances in being able to serve up real-time, relevant content, or engaging content that can now be rendered to large majorities of citizens on mobile devices, government officials are now seeing the tremendous value of electronic engagement with citizens. Citizens are also consumers, and they carry into their interactions with governments expectations fueled by their interactions with best-of-breed commercial apps and Websites. As these citizen expectations increase, the new demands on governments to effectively engage their audiences is extraordinary.  To citizens accustomed to apps and online services that iterate continuously, a government Web portal with the capabilities of even two years ago misses the mark.  Thankfully, there is no lack of leadership and ideas when it comes to reaching more citizens with more information in ways that have never been available before.

We all know the positive impact that can happen when diverse groups work to solve problems. This year’s Davos had no shortage of problems to solve, but I was encouraged by the number of creative ideas being discussed and the appetite to work in earnest to solve them.

Update: Alignment of Adobe-Approved Trust List (AATL) and EU Trust List (EUTL)

Posted by John Jolliffe, Head of European Government Affairs, and Steve Gottwals, Senior Engineering Manager for Information Security in Standards at Adobe

As mentioned in our previous post, Alignment of Adobe-Approved Trust List (AATL) and EU Trust List (EUTL) we have been busy working on the integration of the EU Trust List into Adobe Acrobat and Reader software. Our January 14, 2014 release of Adobe Reader and Acrobat 11.0.06 takes another significant step towards that ultimate goal. In this version of the product, you will notice new UI to manage the EUTL download. For instance, we’ve added new controls in the Trust Manager Preferences as shown below.

EUTL pic

While we continue with our beta testing phase of this process, the general user will not be able to download an EUTL. But, as soon as beta is complete, we’ll be moving the EUTL into production, where everyone will have access.

“Adobe &” Program Brings Digital Design Skills Training and Technology to Students in Australia

Posted by Erica Fensom, Head of Government Affairs – Asia Pacific

I am a new member of the government relations team at Adobe. Having just finished my fifth week with the company and meeting with colleagues in four offices across three countries, I’ve had an intense first immersion in Adobe culture. I am impressed with how much creativity, openness and genuine sincerity there is across this company.

Every day, Adobe strives to change the world through digital experiences and I’ve seen this first-hand. During my first week in the Sydney office, I had the opportunity to attend an Adobe & workshop with a select group of sixteen students from Merrylands High School.  Led by experienced graphic designer and Adobe Digital Media Solutions Consultant Renee Lance, the training provided the Year 9 students with an introductory course to develop technical design skills using PhotoShop and Illustrator.

Within a few hours, I witnessed a group of young students transform photos of koalas, images of their family, and self-portraits into vibrant works of abstract art using variety of advanced tools professional designers use to manipulate images and design illustrations. These students (and I include myself in this group) were learning how to stretch their creativity and develop skills in leading-edge creative design technologies.

As Australia seeks to increase the number of students who are trained in career-ready ICT skills, the Adobe & program seeks to empower young people with the tools they need to develop skills for the digital economy, including web design and creating digital experiences for audiences online. As part of the day, students were given the opportunity to sit an exam to become an Adobe Certified Expert, an industry certification that can be used on students’ resumes as they prepare for future careers.

I spoke with my colleagues who run the education programs in Australia to learn more about why Adobe is doing these workshops. I learned that Adobe believes arts and creativity is an important part of education. Adobe conducted a study called Creativity and Education, Why it Matters, which interviewed over one thousand educators. An overwhelming majority of teachers believe that creativity can be applied to every domain of knowledge and every school subject. They do not see creativity as being relevant only to intrinsically creative subjects such as the arts, music and drama, but they see creativity as of paramount importance for the development of creative thinking and learning across all subjects.

Across the state of New South Wales, Adobe has partnered with the government to provide industry-leading digital media products to more than 250,000 students, representing over two thirds of students across NSW. Our focus in education is to unleash the creativity of all students, educators and schools. Teachers who have participated in the Adobe education programs in Australia have found the skills experience workshops to be valuable for their students. You can listen to educator Ross Johnson discuss his experience here.

I’m enjoying being a part of the Adobe team in Asia-Pacific and I look forward to taking part in more of these educational workshops for students. With Adobe, I’m proud to support government policies that enable ICT skills growth and development that will be important for Australia’s future in the digital economy. As a mom with a daughter about to enter kindergarten in the Sydney suburbs, I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for her in Australia.

To learn more about Adobe’s vision for creativity in education, please click here for information about tools and programs available in Australia. 

Students participate at the Adobe & program in Sydney

Students participate in the Adobe & program in Sydney

Snowball Effect: Patent Discussions Gain Momentum in the Senate

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

I was honored to testify in the Senate Judiciary Committee today in support of Senators Leahy and Lee’s “Patent Transparency and Improvements Act,” as well as legislation from Senators Hatch, Cornyn, and Grassley.  Senator Leahy kicked off today’s hearing by mentioning the snowfall in Vermont. Luckily, the snow didn’t reach DC, and my second opportunity to testify in front of Congress wasn’t disrupted by the snow like my last testimony.

Listening to the testimony of fellow witnesses on the panel and the Senators on the Judiciary Committee, I was struck by four things:

  • The hearing was extremely well attended, with 15 Senators present, underscoring the seriousness of the problem.
  • There was unanimous support from witnesses for halting the behavior of patent trolls that unjustly attack real innovators in the United States. Like many of Adobe’s customers, patent trolls are targeting end users and small businesses with meritless law suits in search of a quick settlement and payout. As this problem grows exponentially, Congress must act quickly to stop this behavior.
  • There was wide agreement, such as from Philip Johnson, the Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Johnson & Johnson and representative for the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, that fee shifting is the most appropriate way to balance the needs of the legitimate patent holders and disrupt the troll model, and that there is a need to reach the real party in interest to make fee shifting effective.
  • Finally, I was gratified that all witnesses spoke out in favor of balanced solutions to the troll problem.  Adobe has been both a plaintiff and defendant in patent litigation, and our interest is in promoting a targeted fix that addresses a serious but ultimately narrow imbalance in one particular flavor of civil litigation around patents.

I recognize that there are varying viewpoints about how best to remedy the nearly $29 Billion cost patent trolls inflict on our innovation economy.  However, as I’ve written in prior posts, the legislation crafted by Senators Leahy and Lee is great start on patent reform.  However, to provide a comprehensive solution, Leahy-Lee needs to be coupled with other measures, particularly Senator Cornyn and Grassley’s legislation, which addresses heightened pleading and discovery reform, and Senator Hatch’s legislation, which provides discretionary bonding.

I look forward to the next step in moving this effort forward. I also look forward to a relaxing winter break. Happy Holidays everyone!

Dana Rao, Adobe's Vice President for Intellectual Property and Litigation, providing testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning.

Providing testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning.

A Victory in the House!

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

Things can get done! The House acted in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion to pass the Innovation Act this morning, 325-91!  Members of Congress and their staffs spent months developing language to address a problem that is costing our economy billions of dollars. I am impressed and delighted with the ready recognition and sophisticated understanding of this problem by Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and all of us affected by this problem (and that is pretty much all of us) appreciate their energy and efforts in developing a set of comprehensive solutions to reform patent litigation abuses. Unfortunately, the patent trolls have made it too easy to demonstrate the real consequences of this abusive behavior. But, it has taken real work to come up with a fair and balanced solution that addresses the problem and also ensures that the patent system works to protect innovators small and large. In fact, the Innovation Act streamlines the litigation process to minimize the cost of litigation for both parties, which benefits the small patent holder plaintiff as well as the patent defendant. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, Adobe is grateful for Congressman Goodlatte’s leadership role in developing this legislation, and for the support of other key co-sponsors including Representatives Lofgren, Coble, DeFazio, Smith, Eshoo, Chaffetz, Bachus, Marino, Farenthold, and Holding.

With the White House signaling its support of the Innovation Act in a Statement of Administration Policy released earlier this week, the conversation turns to the Senate with a hearing scheduled for December 17th. I hope that the energizing debate in the House today drives a sense of urgency in the Senate to act in early 2014 to pass a bill of similar breadth and effectiveness as HR 3309. It is critical that fee shifting, along with a method of ensuring those fees are paid, are elements present in any patent reform legislation. As I have noted before, unless the patent trolls face some risk for filing meritless lawsuits, these suits will continue. And money that should have been spent on investing in hiring, developing new technologies, and moving America’s economy forward will instead be spent on lawyers and patent trolls. Let’s get an effective patent reform bill passed in the Senate, so we can go back to innovating and driving America’s economy forward.

Thank you again to everyone who has focused attention on fixing the patent system and upholding the status of the United States as one of the best places in the world to innovate.

One Giant Step Forward (on Patent Reform)

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

Thanks to UStream, I and probably tens of other patent aficionados just finished watching an eight-hour “markup” in the House Judiciary Committee. (A markup is a working meeting of a Congressional Committee at which bills and amendments are offered and voted upon.)

For those of you who have never witnessed a markup, it’s a reaffirmation that our democracy does work. Members of Congress debate, deals are struck, and roll calls are taken (listening to the voice roll calls is amazingly hypnotic, by the way, I highly encourage giving it a try if you need a moment of clarity–“Ms. Chu? Ms. Chu votes ‘Aye’). And since I was invested in the outcome, even the introduction of mysterious “second degree amendments to amendments” was filled with drama.

I have been privileged to meet with members of Congress and their staffs to make the case for patent litigation reform, as I have mentioned in prior posts. What happened tonight was exceptional and inspirational. The House Judiciary Committee reported out the Innovation Act on a vote of 33-5 in a truly bipartisan fashion with 12 Democrats joining 21 Republicans.

Everyone recognized that patent trolls are a scourge on businesses small and large. The real debate was on what to do about it. In the end, Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), with strong support from Adobe’s hometown Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), offered an amendment that made this remarkable bipartisan vote possible. The Jeffries amendment clarified under what circumstances judges should not shift attorney’s fees to the prevailing party, making clear that reasonable patent infringement lawsuits will not be impacted and that plaintiffs in economic hardship will be protected.

In a previous life, I was actually a Schedule C employee in the Clinton Justice Department. I believe in access to justice for all, and reject the universal application of “loser pays” with regard to attorney’s fees — i.e., the English system. I was heartened to see that many on both sides of the aisle tonight recognized that patent litigation is a very narrow and special case where balanced fee shifting is appropriate.  Fee shifting has been in the patent act for decades (in Section 285) and updating it to address the troll phenomena is just good legislative sense.

Many thanks to Chairman Goodlatte and the entire House Judiciary Committee for the invigorating debate today, and to the 33 members of the Committee who voted to report the Innovation Act to the House floor for an eventual vote. I look forward to more improvements in the Act as this process continues.

The Senate Steps Up (on Patent Reform)

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

I wrote a couple weeks ago about the patent troll problem, and how we were seeing bipartisan action in the House of Representatives centered on the Innovation Act, Chairman Goodlatte’s comprehensive bill on patent reform.  I’m happy to report that we are seeing great momentum in the House, with a markup/committee vote taking place on the Act later today in the Judiciary Committee.  After the Judiciary markup, next stop for the Act is a vote of the full House, later this year or early 2014. For those Schoolhouse Rock fans out there, you know this is the first important step in a long process to have this bill become a law.

To that end, I’m pleased to report that the Senate has been just as active, and the work of a number of offices is now bearing fruit as introduced legislation.  Adobe supports the bills introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Lee (R-UT), as well as separate bills from Sens. Hatch (R-UT) and Cornyn (R-TX).

Each of these bills tackles different aspects of the troll problem.  The Leahy bill provides some important safeguards to ensure software developers like Adobe are able to limit the effects of abusive patent litigation filed against our customers.  Both the Hatch and Cornyn bills provide for fee shifting.  Allowing the prevailing party to collect fees will deter meritless patent lawsuits, as the plaintiffs will face a financial consequence if they lose.  The Hatch bill adds a critical element to the fee-shifting proposal by providing a discretionary bond that will ensure those shifted fees will actually get paid by someone.  The Hatch legislation also safeguards the rights of individual inventors and entrepreneurs by giving the court the option to impose the bond, and providing guidance to the court that certain entities (non-trolls, individual inventors, universities) should not be required to post bonds.

Taken together, these Senate bills amount to a comprehensive plan to address the troll problem.  They include critical measures on fee shifting, demand letters, customer stay, real party in interest, and many other positive elements.

We are thankful to Chairman Leahy and his staff for his commitment to solving the patent litigation abuse problem, and for moving legislation forward.  We are especially grateful to two hometown-hero Senators who have more than a thousand Adobe employees in their state—Senators Hatch and Lee.  Adobe looks forward to working with these three Senators, along with Senators Cornyn and Schumer, as the process moves forward.

Adobe supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Posted by Andrew Kirkpatrick, Group Product Manager for Accessibility in Adobe Accessibility

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in 2006, and has since been signed by 137 countries. The CRPD affirms the equality of all people, without exceptions due to their abilities. This month, Adobe sent a letter of support for the ratification of the Convention to Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Senate is responsible for approving treaties put forward for ratification by the president. The CRPD was signed by the United States in 2009. Unfortunately, at the time the CRPD was first presented to the Senate, it was not approved, falling just a few votes short of the required two-thirds vote.

Adobe is adding its voice to the chorus of organizations and advocates that believe the CRPD is an important step toward ensuring people with disabilities have equal access to government services, employment opportunities, and technological advances. One of the expectations of the CRPD is that ratifying countries will adopt standards for information technology accessibility. In order to facilitate the goal of equal access, it is critical that the adopted standards be harmonized to ensure that software from companies such as Adobe, developers creating content, and assistive technology vendors can focus on a single global standard for accessibility rather than needing to address unique requirements in each country.

The United States, through legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, has already affirmed that disability must not be a barrier to entering a building, finding and keeping a job, interacting with government officials and services, shopping, dining out, or moving from place to place. Other U.S. laws guarantee equal access to education, voting, buying a home, catching a flight, and even watch TV shows on the Internet. While there is still work to be done, the foresight of bipartisan U.S. policymakers over the decades in creating a legislative framework that moves this country toward equal access for all people is now being emulated worldwide. Ratifying the CRPD will further show the world that these are the values we should all share.