The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a mark-up session for this morning on S. 23, the Patent Reform Act of 2011, introduced by Sen. Leahy (D-VT) last week. The Committee Chairman would like to fast-track the bill through the Committee to get a vote by the entire Senate soon.
The bill has been co-sponsored by 8 of the Committee’s 18 members: the aforementioned Sen. Leahy, Ranking Member Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Several other committee members have been rumored to be discussing potential amendments to the post-grant review procedure, willful infringement, and fee provisions of the bill.
While the business community was a bit slow in the last Congress to take positions on the bill and to participate in the debate (to the extent that there was any debate permitted by Chairman Leahy), this time there appears to be resistance at an early stage. Politico is reporting that the Patent Fairness Coalition is opposed to the bill, while the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform supports it. Large pharmaceutical companies also support the bill. The main criticism of the bill seems to be that the bill favors big business at the expense of small businesses and individual inventors.
On the House side, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has indicated that his committee will hold a hearing on Feb. 11 to examine certain aspects of patent reform legislation.