Patent Reform Legislation Update

It’s been a while since we’ve heard much on the Patent Reform bill that is pending in Congress.  The last we heard, Secretary Locke was pushing the bill forward and Sen. Leahy promised to bring it to the Senate floor before the end of the 2009. 

That obviously didn’t happen as Congress has been busy with things like health care reform and bailouts.  And in 2010, it would seem that legislators would be more concerned with reelection than mundane things like patent reform.

On Tuesday, a group of House members, including Mike Michaud (D-ME), Dan Manzullo (R-IL), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), sent a letter to the House leadership expressing opposition to the currently pending bill. 

The letter urges that strong patent protection is needed to drive recovery from the current economic slump.  The legislators some expressed support for the Senate compromise on damages, but criticized the “apportionment-centric” system of damages in the bill.  They called the changes to post-grant opposition and inter partes reexamination unnecessary because they will not result in a decrease in patent litigation and will make it too easy for large companies and foreign competitors to challenge US patents.

The letter also notes that there are many constituencies who would be affected by the bill and urged the House Judiciary Committee to hold open hearings on the legislation to get input from these parties.

The letter appears to have been prompted by President Obama’s recent calls for reforms of the nation’s intellectual property laws.  The President seems to be focused on changes to intellectual property laws abroad as he has been referring to cheap knock-offs from countries such as China.

Legislation of this type is always difficult in an election year.  Now that health care reform is not taking up all of Congress’ time, however, it is possible that it may revisit patent reform.  There is a need to improve the patent system, but most of the changes necessary are within the PTO.  New Director Kappos is making improvements, but requires additional time and funding to continue these efforts. 

If Congress is to move this legislation forward, it should do so in an deliberate manner with open hearings to get input from all concerned parties, not in a rushed manner as the Senate Judiciary Committee did in 2009.

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3 Responses to “Patent Reform Legislation Update”

  1. britt borden Says:

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  2. Deborah Azor Says:

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  3. More Opposition to Patent Reform « INVENTIVE STEP Says:

    […] few weeks ago, several House members sent a letter to the House leadership expressing opposition to the pending bills.  BNA (subscription service) is now reporting that […]

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