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Bipartisan Group Of Senators Urge Action On Patent Reform


Posted: September 15, 2010 @ 10:04 pm
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WASHINGTON (Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010) – A bipartisan group of 25 Senators Wednesday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urging him to schedule a vote on the bipartisan Patent Reform Act. The legislation will make the first reforms to the nation’s patent laws in more than 55 years, and will update the patent system to improve patent quality and increase certainty among parties in litigation.

Leading signatories to the letter include Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), as well as Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the lead Republican cosponsor of the patent reform legislation. Leahy and Hatch have teamed together in each of the last three Congresses to introduce patent reform legislation, and in March 2009, they introduced the Patent Reform Act. The Judiciary Committee reported the legislation in April 2009, and this past March, Leahy, Sessions, Hatch and others announced a bipartisan compromise aimed at addressing stakeholders’ concerns.

“A well functioning and efficient patent system is critical to American invention and innovation, which are the cornerstones of our economy and job creation,” the Senators wrote. “Patents granted represent jobs for the American people – jobs developing and producing new products and services, jobs bringing these products and services to the market, and jobs selling these products and services to consumers here and abroad. Strengthening our patent system and spurring innovation and investment is an action we should take now to stimulate our economy.”

The letter concludes, “Patent reform is bipartisan legislation, supported by the Administration, that will improve the economy and create jobs without adding to the deficit. We urge you to schedule the Managers’ Amendment for debate as soon as possible.”

In remarks last week, President Obama underscored the importance of an effective patent system, stating, “We see a future where we invest in American innovation and American ingenuity; where we export more goods so we create more jobs here at home; where we make it easier to start a business or patent an invention; where we build a homegrown, clean energy industry — because I don’t want to see new solar panels or electric cars or advanced batteries manufactured in Europe or Asia. I want to see them made right here in the U.S. of A by American workers.”

The administration has indicated its strong support for the managers’ amendment to the Patent Reform Act. The compromise is also supported by a diverse group of industries and stakeholders, including: The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Microsoft, IBM, PhRMA, Genentech, Association of American Universities, American Intellectual Property Law Association, AdvaMed, Dow Chemical Company, ExxonMobil, Bose, AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, Association of University Technology Managers, the National Association of Manufacturers, National Venture Capital Association, Kodak, Pepsico, and independent inventors.

Joining Leahy, Sessions and Hatch in signing the letter were Senators Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), George LeMieux (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Roland Burris (D-Ill.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

The full text of the letter follows. A PDF is also available online.

# # # # #

September 15, 2010

The Honorable Harry Reid

Majority Leader

United States Senate

S-221, U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

We request that you bring the Managers’ Amendment to S. 515, the Patent Reform Act, to the Senate floor for consideration as soon as possible.

A well functioning and efficient patent system is critical to American invention and innovation, which are the cornerstones of our economy and job creation. Patents granted represent jobs for the American people – jobs developing and producing new products and services, jobs bringing these products and services to the market, and jobs selling these products and services to consumers here and abroad. Strengthening our patent system and spurring innovation and investment is an action we should take now to stimulate our economy.

The bipartisan Managers’ Amendment to S. 515 released by the Judiciary Committee would speed the patent application process, reducing the three-year wait that inventors must endure before obtaining their patents and securing the funding needed to place new products on the market. This comprehensive patent reform legislation would also allow the public to bring forward relevant information to the USPTO during the patent examination process and after the patent has been granted, improving the clarity and quality of patents and providing greater confidence in their validity and enforceability. The Managers’ Amendment would also move the U.S. patent system into greater harmony with the rest of the world and bring greater predictability to patent infringement litigation, enabling inventors and businesses to dedicate more resources to inventing and bringing those inventions to market.

Patent reform is bipartisan legislation, supported by the Administration, that will improve the economy and create jobs without adding to the deficit. We urge you to schedule the Managers’ Amendment for debate as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

PATRICK LEAHY                                         JEFF SESSIONS

United States Senator                                 United States Senator

HERB KOHL                                                  ORRIN HATCH

United States Senator                                   United States Senator

ARLEN SPECTER                                         JON KYL

United States Senator                                United States Senator

SHELDON WHITEHOUSE                           RICHARD G. LUGAR

United States Senator                              United States Senator

AMY KLOBUCHAR                                      THAD COCHRAN

United States Senator                                United States Senator

EDWARD E. KAUFMAN                              CHRISTOPHER S. BOND

United States Senator                             United States Senator

JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN                               SAM BROWNBACK

United States Senator                               United States Senator

BILL NELSON                                               RICHARD BURR

United States Senator                                  United States Senator

FRANK LAUTENBERG                                ROGER WICKER

United States Senator                             United States Senator

ROBERT MENENDEZ                                  GEORGE S. LEMIEUX

United States Senator                               United States Senator

SHERROD BROWN                                      ROBERT P. CASEY, Jr.

United States Senator                                 United States Senator

CLAIRE MCCASKILL                                  ROLAND BURRIS

United States Senator                               United States Senator

KIRSTEN E. GILLIBRAND

United States Senator

cc:  The Honorable Mitch McConnell

15 comments
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  1. “enabling inventors … to dedicate more resources to inventing”

    In other words forcing inventors to pay more for trying to get the patent they never will get if we the inventor-hating coalition have anything to say about it.

    How funny.

    Isn’t the English language a most pliable and pleasurable tool for saying one thing and sounding like you mean another?

  2. Gene,

    S.515, even as amended, still gives me huge pause for concern. It still isn’t “real reform” as it doesn’t address (other than indirectly) the systemic issues in the USPTO patent examination process (e.g., examination efficiency, examiner retention, a “rational” starndard for inequitable conduct, etc.). For that reason, I’m still not on-board for S.515.

  3. Those who are against patents, (its an army) simply don’t understand the issues. They are all too quick to criticize, but ask them to suggest something better,(that would work and protect an industry that although is dysfunctional and prone to abuse, is functional enough and profitable enough to offer jobs to hundreds of thousands of people), and all too quickly, they’ve run out of ideas.

  4. Just because they call it “reform” doesn’t mean it is.

  5. @Gnstr

    “but ask them to suggest something better,(that would work and protect an industry that although is dysfunctional and prone to abuse,”

    “an industry that although is dysfunctional and prone to abuse”
    Thank you; but most of those that suggest, are the those who are against patents ?

    Why would you ask someone to suggest anything that are against patents ? I don’t get your logic there to make a point to criticize hose who are against patents.

    The patent system has had a golden road to follow to make it better themselves, THEY HAVE NOT ! Abuse comes down to taking the broken patent system for a ride for as long as it would last. If those of the patent system can’t handle it, then maybe it is time to exam the value of what already has been patented to address the question where and how the Law should change for the future.

  6. Roland Burris really shouldn’t count…

  7. Golden road to follow?

    That appeared to be English, but I have absolutely no clue what you mean New Here.

  8. I am deeply disappointed to learn that my senator, Sherrod Brown, signed this letter.

    S.515 does nothing to address the substantive problems with the patent system, but instead introduced a number of detrimental changes which will make patents harder to get and less valuable.

    The rhetoric about this bill being needed to “update” the patent system is specious and Gene should feel shameful for reprinting it here as a press release without any critical commentary. Certainly, nothing in S.515 will “improve the economy and create jobs”. There are no provisions in S.515 that will help get “solar panels or electric cars or advanced batteries” built in America. This is instead a bill written by and for a small group of big businesses in certain technology sectors and will mainly work to help them reduce their vulnerability to innovative market-entrant competition by weakening the patent system.

    Senator Brown, where was your discussion with your constituents on this issue? I wasn’t invited to the meeting, though I deserved to be there. I would be greatly disappointed if your support for the wrong side of this issue was won without full consideration of both sides.

    I agree that S.515 isn’t a partisan issue. That’s not its problem. It’s more analogous to a Wall Street vs. Main Street issue. Senator Brown just chose (the analog of) Wall Street, and I’ll like to know why, what information and belief he has based his choice on.

  9. RE: “Golden Road” Grateful Dead Song – taken only for the “freedom” attitude description in the song.

  10. Hot of the Presses:

    Coalition for “Fairness” realizes that fairness requires adding a new Reexamination-of-Noninfringement to the “Reform” Bill. Senators Leahy and Hatch throw their full support behind the new “reform” idea.

    After having recently read the story about the goose, the gander, the sauce and the gravy (in the My Pet Goat literature series), members of the “Fairness” Coalition unanimously came out in support of a new Reexamination-of-Noninfringement procedure.

    It works like this:
    After a US District Court rules that a patent is not infringed, the patent owner may haul the the accused party before a USPTO tribunal to reexamine the finding and perhaps reverse it. This can be done over and over again just as long as a substantial new question as to Noninfringement is raised each time.

    In other words, it is simply the flip side of Reexamination re Validity.

    Just as an accused infringer may haul the patent owner before the PTO tribunal for reexamination of patent validity, the patent owner may now haul the accused (time and again) before the PTO tribunal for reexamination as to whether the finding of noninfringement was in error.

    Gravy for the Goose. Sauce for the Gander.
    Fair is fair (and certainly not foul or fowl).
    How could a Coalition for “Fairness” stand for anything less?

    Let us all support the Rally to Restore Fairness to America on Oct. 30th!!!
    Be there or be Colbert.
    http://www.rallytorestoresanity.com/

  11. After a US District Court rules that a patent is not infringed, the patent owner may haul the the accused party before a USPTO tribunal to reexamine the finding and perhaps reverse it. This can be done over and over again just as long as a substantial new question as to Noninfringement is raised each time.

    So, for example, just because the previously non-infringing defendant comes out with a substantially new product you get to sue him for infringement again?

    That’s ridiculous. America would never stand for that sort of abuse of process.

  12. America would never stand for that sort of abuse

    I know today is not April 1st.

    But it was meant as a joke, as sarcasm with a twist of citric irony.
    Lighten up.

    Then again, abuse is what patent reexamination can become if an inventor is hauled in for one inquisition after the next under the post-grant reconsideration rules of the “reformisists”. But no one sheds a tear for the inventor. Do they?

  13. step back,

    You just might see some alligator tears, but my advice would be to see those tears from a comfortable distance.

  14. BD,

    I’m aware of political parties that keep donkeys (asses) as their pets and others that favor roomfuls of blind tea party-goers circling about elephants. However, I didn’t know there were those that could make the reptiles cry. Perchance do they do it by teasing the reptiles with an offer of fresh Kool Aid? ;-)

  15. It’s great to see that patent reform is not dead, and that members of Congress value IP and are taking steps to improve the lot of the USPTO and patent law. However, we need substantial, substantive reform, which our esteemed senators to not appear to offer us in S. 515.
    http://www.aminn.org/webcast-aipr-patent-reform-presentation-us-patent-and-trademark-office