While other issues (i.e., health reform, bailouts) continue to dominate the attention of Congress, it appears that patent reform is coming back on the radar, as a recent letter from 59 tech companies point out that, "[w]hile some versions of the legislation have been improved this Congress, additional improvements are in order to ensure that the end product avoids serious unintended consequences."
Specifically, the letter comes out against post-grant review and argues that the PTO is not equipped to handle the inevitable flood of requests:
[T]these proposals represent a huge risk for the Patent and Trademark Office, which already is under severe strain as indicated in Congress’ emergency approval to use trademark fees for patent functions. Adding new obligations to the agency at this time seems extraordinarily unwise. Almost inherently, the basic patent examination function will suffer, with the result of longer patent pendency and lower patent quality. . .
Another troubling aspect of the post-grant review and inter partes reexamination proposals is that, as written, they are vulnerable to a high level of abuse. Specifically, the current construct of the proposals will allow infringers to subject valid patents to lengthy and repeat challenges.
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We agree on the goal of reducing the amount and cost of patent litigation. We do not believe, however, that the post-grant and inter partes provisions, as drafted, will achieve this goal. We urge you to push for improvements to these provisions which will limit the ability of infringers to undermine the very system the legislation attempts to strengthen.
Read/download the entire letter here (link)
See also, "Tech cos. protest patent reform in letter to Locke" (link)