Patent Reform Dies in Senate Judiciary Committee

After many delays in the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced on May 21, 2014, that patent reform is officially off the table for now and will not be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those in favor of patent reform who read Senator Leahy’s statement, which lamented the lack of consensus within the industry, may have taken false hope from his official statement because he ended by saying: “I hope we are able to return to this issue this year.” The reality of the legislative calendar suggests that revisiting patent legislation this year is a long shot at best. Patent reform in 2014 is all but dead.

At the end of 2013, legislative patent reform in 2014 seemed like all but a done deal. On Thursday, December 5, 2013, the United States House of Representatives passed the Innovation Act by a vote of 325-91. Surprisingly, the Innovation Act (HR 3309) had only been introduced on October 23, 2013, and was marked-up on November 20, 2013. Leading up to the vote in the House, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said: “This schedule suggests the fix was in.” That was, indeed, how most of the opponents of patent reform felt at the time.

When patent reform bounced over to the Senate, there was much greater interest on the part of Senators and their staff to listen to critics who questioned why another round of patent reform was necessary so soon after the America Invents Act (AIA) passed, which was the most fundamental change to U.S. patent laws in many generations. Indeed, one of the central pieces of the AIA was to usher in new contested proceedings at the USPTO, which would make it more easy to challenge already-issued patents.


Are Additional Patent Reforms Necessary?

todd-dickinson-aipla-2012-2For better or for worse, Congress hasn’t asked whether additional patent reforms are necessary. Rather, they decided that additional patent reforms were necessary and the only discussion worth having was about the implementation details for that legislation. This ‘legislate first, ask questions later’ approach is evidenced by the fact that the Innovation Act was submitted in late October 2013, marked-up in late November 2013, and passed by the House in early December 2013. Before we were even out of 2013, the Senate held its first hearing on the legislation, a companion bill submitted by Senator Patrick Leahy.

Todd Dickinson, who is the Executive Director of the AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Association) and a former Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Dickinson recommended that Congress take no action now. His argument is persuasive — the America Invents Act requires the USPTO to study the effects of that law, which was a major revision to the patent laws. The report isn’t even due to Congress until 2015. So why rush to make more changes now?


Senate Votes 89-9 to Pass Patent Reform, No End to Fee Diversion

Written by Gene Quinn, of IPWatchdog and Practice Center Contributor.

It looks like my prediction on Tuesday that the Senate would pass H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act, prior to President Obama’s much anticipated jobs and economy speech that begins at 7:00pm ET today, Thursday, September 8, 2011.  The Senate voted to pass H.R. 1249 and send the House version of the America Invents Act to the White House for President Obama’s signature by a vote of 89 to 9.  The Coburn Amendment, which would have once and for all put an end to fee diversion, was unsuccessful, being tabled by a vote of 50 to 48.

Beginning at 4:00pm ET the Senate started considering three separate amendments to H.R. 1249.  The passage of any would have required the legislation to ping back to the House of Representatives, but that was not to happen.

The first amendment considered was offered by Senator Sessions. The Sessions Amendment would have removed section 37 of the American Invents Act relating to the calculation of the 60-day period for applying for certain patent term extensions. At 4:10pm the roll call was run through for the first time with only 9 Senators having voted. Over the next 22 minutes 89 other Senators would make their way to the Senate floor to cast their votes. At 4:32pm the vote was announced; the Senate voted 51 to 47 to defeat the Sessions Amendment.

Click here to read the full IPWatchdog publication.


Patent Reform Update: Senate Eyes September Enactment For Patent Reform

Scott McKeown, Partner at Oblon Spivak and Practice Center Contributor, sent in this article discussing the status of the pending patent reform legislation.

Debt Ceiling Raised, Job Bills On Deck

With debt ceiling armageddon now averted in the 11th hour (depending upon your perspective), Congress has turned its attention to election season addressing the economy. As previously discussed, the patent reform legislation has long been touted as a “no cost economic stimulus” that will create jobs.

While there are differences with H.R. 1249 and S.23, most notably concerns over fee diversion, the Senate has indicated a willingness to accept the House bill.

Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has identified patent reform as the first jobs bill to be taken up in the Fall term. To ensure quick enactment Senator Reid has indicated he will file cloture today (to remove the “hold”) so that the Senate can take up the bill immediately when the Senate convenes in September. (more…)

Patent Reform: House Passes America Invents Act 304-117

The following post comes courtesy of Gene Quinn, of IPWatchdog and Practice Center Contributor.

At approximately 5:50pm [Thursday] the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 1249, which is known as the America Invents Act, by a vote of 304-117.  This bill differs from the Senate version of patent reform, S. 23, so there will be no bill going to the desk of President Obama just yet.  There are important differences between the two bills, chief among them is funding for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  The bill passed by the Senate put an end to the practice of fee diversion, which occurs when the Congress appropriates the USPTO less than they collect in fees.  The excess in the fees collected from users of the USPTO then go to the federal government as general revenues and are used for purposes other than the operation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Indeed, now the fight will go back to the Senate where Senators will be asked to swallow the changes adopted by the House of Representatives, which seems unlikely.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), who are the respective champions of the bills in the two chambers will likely want to find compromise language that can pass both the House and the Senate.  I have been told that a formal Conference on the bill is unlikely, which would mean that the Senate would need to hammer out language acceptable to the Senate while also being acceptable to the House.

Click here to read the full IPWatchdog publication.