Thursday, May 22, 2014

Congress' Patent Reform Stalls for Lack of Consensus

Congressional patent reform has stalled for lack of consensus. More specifically, on May 21, 2014, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, stated the following:

"We have been working for almost a year with countless stakeholders on legislation to address the problem of patent trolls who are misusing the patent system. This is a real problem facing businesses in Vermont and across the country.

Unfortunately, there has been no agreement on how to combat the scourge of patent trolls on our economy without burdening the companies and universities who rely on the patent system every day to protect their inventions.  We have heard repeated concerns that the House-passed bill went beyond the scope of addressing patent trolls, and would have severe unintended consequences on legitimate patent holders who employ thousands of Americans.

I have said all along that we needed broad bipartisan support to get a bill through the Senate. Regrettably, competing companies on both sides of this issue refused to come to agreement on how to achieve that goal.

Because there is not sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal, I am taking the patent bill off the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda.  If the stakeholders are able to reach a more targeted agreement that focuses on the problem of patent trolls, there will be a path for passage this year and I will bring it immediately to the Committee.

We can all agree that patent trolls abuse the current patent system.  I hope we are able to return to this issue this year."

In my opinion, the proposed patent reform raised real obstacles (e.g., attorney fee shifting) for legitimate licensing and enforcement of patents. The goal of the legislation was purportedly to deal with patent trolls, but it would have impacted the patent rights of small businesses and startups. Hopefully, Congress will spend the time to study a tricky problem leading to laws that precisely target patent trolls rather than harm the sector of the American economy that creates jobs.

Copyright © 2014 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.