Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who Cares About Health Care Reform? Patent Reform is Back!

EE Times reports:

Senate committee has struck a rough compromise on a controversial patent reform bill that has been stalled for several months while Congress has debated health care. A Senator leading the charge for reform suggested the compromise keeps the draft bill alive by balancing calls for lowering damages in patent infringement suits with calls for improving the quality of patents.

"Today we can report that we have reached a tentative agreement in principle that preserves the core of the compromise struck in committee last year," said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaking at an executive business meeting.
Apparently, the bill is a tweaking of the March 2009 copromise over damage apportionment.  According to Leahy, "I expect that we will be able to release details as they are finalized in the coming days, after consultation with the House."  Apparently, Director Kappos was involved in reaching the present agreement.  It's still not clear when the draft patent reform bill will come to the Senate floor for debate or, if passed, how the bill would be reconciled with one in an earlier stage in the House.

Read EE TImes, "Senator: Committee struck deal on patent reform" (link)

See transcript of statements made today by Sen Leahy at an Executive Business meeting on patent reform(link)

Reuters: "Tentative US patent reform pact reached" (link)

6 Comentários:

Anonymous said...

Patent reform is a fraud on America. It is patently un-American.
Please see for a different/opposing view on patent reform.

MaxDrei said...

I'm struck by the two issues picked out for compromise. Can somebody explain to me why Congress needs to get involved, when the things that need "fixing" are i) quantum of damages and ii) quality in the PTO?

What's stopping the courts now, from getting quantum right, and how will passing a Bill ensure that they get it right, in future?

If quality in the PTO is lacking today, how will passing a Bill make it better?

Or is it that the Bill has other, more important issues, on which there is already consensus, but which can't make progress till the compromise is reached?

In that case, why not delete from the Bill anything about damages or quality?

EG said...


You've astutely pointed out why S.515 isn't "patent law" reform.

The "damages" issue is complete a canard. The Federal Circuit in Lucent Technologies has already shown it's willingness to make "mega damage" awards toe the line of being supported by the evidence. Nothing is needed from Congress to make damages assessments better.

That anyone believes S.515 improves PTO examination quality is laughable. PTO examination quality (or lack thereof) is related to management and training (or more importantly mismanagement and mistraining) of the PTO examining corps. Imposing post-grant oppposition procedures on the PTO (which can't timely handle current reexaminations) will just make this worse. In fact, I've suggested that Congress needs to impose a moratorium on further legislative measures that impose additional procedural (and rulemaking) burdens on the PTO.

Instead make sure the PTO is adequately funded (which ironically Congress is again short-change) and support the initiatives by Kappos (and others) to manage and train the PTO examining corp to be more effective. This may not be glamorous and it certainly isn't "rocket science," but it's what's needed to reverse the "Titanic" that the PTO was becoming. And patience to allow needed management/training changes to take effect which may take several years (after mismanagement/mistraining for many years, you can't expect "miracles" to happen overnight).

Patent Lawyer NJ said...

Patrick Leahy has a very nice press release, but there's nothing of substance in it. Is Congress working with Kappos? Kappos is the only one who I've heard in this whole debate who says things of substance and things which make sense...

C. Ialis said...

Imposing post-grant opposition procedures on the PTO will just make this worse.

Jamie - said...

Post-grant opposition may not be perfect, but it can be quite effective if you set it up the right way - take for example the EPO opposition.

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