Some Sanity from Congress

May 30, 2014 – It looks like to anti-patent, anti-innovation bills – both of which were cleverly labeled as “patent reform” – are dead. Or at least will not be acted on in this Congress. Last year, the House passed H.R. 3309, the “Innovation Act.” Besides the fact that the bill has nothing to do with innovation, it could have made it costlier and riskier to assert a patent by requiring the losing party in a patent infringement lawsuit to pay the legal costs of the prevailing party. The bill passed by a wide margin in the House (we can only assume that no one actually read it), but it has not been brought up for a vote in the Senate, and it does not look like it will. And that’s good news for the innovation community.

Rather than bring H.R. 3309 up for a vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee came up with its own anti-innovation, anti-intellectual property rights bill, S. 1720, the “Patent Transparency and Improvement Acts.” While the proposed Senate bill does not include a “loser-pays” element, it is clearly designed to make it harder for patentees to assert their intellectual patent rights. Twice the bill was schedule to come up for a vote before the Judiciary Committee, but both times the bill was withdrawn from consideration. The Judiciary Committee chair, Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, recently stated that he will not bring the bill up for a vote in this session. And that is yet more good news for the innovation community.