Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cracks Forming in the Passage of Patent Reform Act

Today the Congressional Quarterly (CQ) is reporting that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is pulling his support for S.1145, stating that he "cannot join" his colleagues "on some parts of the bill, citing apportionment of damages as a "principle sticking point."

Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has reportedly been working on introducing the amendments to S.1145 for several days and even reserved the television studio two days in a row this week, only to cancel both times. Support for the bill does not appear to be strong at this time - the CQ article notes that Leahy acknowledged that he "will need every vote he can find to advance the bill through the Senate."

Cosponsor Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has also voiced reservations about S.1145, and made clear this week that his support for the bill is contingent on the inclusion of his language for amending inequitable conduct (currently Hatch is "optimistic" that his language will be included).

In a separate but related news story, the Dow Jones Newswires are reporting that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is dropping the "Check 21" provision completely from the bill, stating "I don't know how [the provision] can be modified" to pass constitutional muster. Tuesday, Sessions indicated that he likely wouldn't attempt to fix the amendment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has previously voiced her opposition to the amendment.

The quote that best summarizes the situation is from Senator Sessions himself: "I think this has more to do with lobbyists than it does with merits . . . This has been a lobbyist money machine. They're all over the place around here."

4 Comentários:

Anonymous said...

if this piece of trash legislation does NOT pass, how does the patent community stop the thieves from the CPF the NEXT time they come around (i.e. next year, the year after, etc) waving their dollars in the faces of Sentators/Reps ???? i assume that the amounts of $$$ that the CPF will throw at this will only go UP in the future because its cheaper for them to bribe congress than to stop infringing.

Anonymous said...

About a quarter past 10 AM today Senator Arlen Specter (R) announced on Cspan that so called Patent Reform legislation was being held hostage over the judicial nominees. Yesterday he withdrew his support for the Patent Reform bill.

During the last session of Congress the Republican party faced a no win situation with patent reform. Today the Democrats also face a no win situation with Patent Reform due to labor's growing opposition.

I have to take my hat off to whoever conceived of this tactic to dump Patent Deform legislation. It is brilliant and I am more than a bit peeved that I did not think of this.

Everyone gets rid of a hot potato and in the process the Republicans gain leverage in addition to getting rid of a bill which no one except a handful of legislators who have milked the Coalition for Patent fairness & Piracy really wants.

Ronald J. Riley,

Speaking only on my own behalf.
President - - RJR at
Executive Director - - RJR at
Senior Fellow -
President - Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

Anonymous said...

The legislation is hardly "trash" - especially not the Check 21 amendment which has some serious national security implications.

Former Congressman and DHS Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson, who is also a well-respected lawyer, makes a solid case for why the amendment should - and will - pass:


Let's be clear: A company should be compensated for a competitor's infringement on its patents. The question, however, is whether Data Treasury has valid patents for having laid claim to commonly used processing methods that banks, financial institutions and others had been using for years.

The claim of the patent holder in this case, compared to the national-security needs of the nation, is further undermined when it becomes clear that the company in question neither invents new products nor sells them. To quote the New York Times, this is a company "whose only business, other than one client, appears to be suing other companies." ("Small Company is Specializing in Suing Banks," New York Times, Dec. 24, 2004) One issue that rises above the validity of the patents is the role of the federal government in prompting the private sector to take certain actions. When the government dictates to the private sector, inevitably the latter faces certain costs. This is why government interference in the private sector should be done with extreme caution.

In this case, due caution was given, but the enormous responsibility for the safety and security of American citizens outweighed the specific and narrowly tailored costs to the private sector.

To address this unintended obstacle to realizing its intent, the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced bipartisan legislation that passed unanimously last summer. The legislation would protect the financial system, respect legitimate intellectual property rights and prevent frivolous lawsuits by clarifying the regulation for the financial system, for national security purposes, to efficiently process checks and transfer funds.

As patent-reform legislation heads to the full Senate for a vote, it's critical this legislation be included. Speedy passage will ensure that we close critical gaps in our nation's financial security that should have been addressed years ago."

The full piece is found here:

Anonymous said...

Senator Specter DID NOT totally pull his support for the bill -- he just spoke of complications arising from the language in how to assess damages in patent infringement. All hope for the bill is NOT lost, though, since he also said: "I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement, but more work has to be done to get it right." This shows that the process is continuing.

As Asa Hutchinson noted above, the passage of Check 21 is a matter of national security. Partly because of Data Treasury, the "patent troll" company that sues banks of their use of electronic checking technology, our financial system is anything but secure. Small and medium sized banks haven't even enrolled in the electronic check system in fear that they will be sued by the company who never invented the process in the first place (and who, by the way, has downsized their employment to two people, since their only business is suing banks).

Our economy is not secure in the event of another attack. It is not only important for Congress to pass the amendment, but it is also their duty. The cost of not passing it is far to high. Our legislature should make sure that partisan bickering doesn't get in the way of what is really important: the American people.

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