The majority shareholder of The Economist Group, the company responsible for publication of The Economist, owns patents. It seems very odd to us that most of the shareholder capital going into a publication that decries patents is coming from organizations who aggressively protect their own innovations through patents. This latest Economist episode has to raise an eyebrow, particularly as the U.S. Congress is soon set to return from the long August recess. Was this Economist article planted with the express purpose of breathing life into what is an increasingly lifeless push for additional patent reform?
In June, authorities in France served a formal notice to Google that it must delete certain links from it’s Google.com domain on a legal basis known as ‘the right to be forgotten.’ The right to be forgotten is implicated when an individual contacts a search engine company, such as Google, asking for a search result to be de-listed, essentially taking it out of their available search results. The provider assesses whether the privacy issue at stake has enough merit to de-list the link. If they don’t, the individual then has another avenue to take with a regulatory agency which may overturn the search engine provider’s decision.
Issa’s amendment changes the language so that a party bringing a patent infringement suit where the defendant has its principle place of business, where the defendant has a physical presence, or where the patent owner has a meaningful physical presence due to research and development or manufacturing. At first glance these venue provisions seem reasonable because they would curtail the extreme forum shopping that does go on in patent cases, as witnessed in the Eastern District of Texas. On closer consideration, however, this provision could create problems for those patent owners who are not bad actors that seek to abuse the system or take advantage by only filing in favorable, remote forums.
At the end of a three-hour long hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary this Thursday, June 4th, S.1137, the proposed legislation known as the PATENT Act, was approved to move to the floor of the United States Senate by a 16-4 vote of the Senate committee. Proponents of the bill lauded the bipartisan support which brought the bill committee approval. Interestingly, a small but vocal bipartisan minority has developed, a couple of whom have pledged to continue debate aspects of this legislation which they fear will pose a threat to American innovation.