Posts Tagged ‘patents’
Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed patent-reform legislation without opposition on Thursday, sending the measure to the full Senate for possible action on the first significant changes in the patent system in 60 years.

The Patent Reform Act addresses funding for the Patent and Trademark Office, aimed at improving patent quality and provides more certainty in damages.

The patent system would also transition to a first-inventor-to-file system, meaning the inventor who files an application first would get the patent. Under the current system, the first to invent would get the patent.

“A balanced and efficient intellectual property system that rewards invention and promotes innovation through high quality patents is crucial to our nation’s economic prosperity and job growth,” said Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in a prepared statement. Two senior Republicans on the panel, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, were listed as co-authors with Leahy.

The Patent Reform Act of 2011 will resemble legislation the panel worked on in the last Congress — which was based on a patent reform bill introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) in 2006. As Main Justice reported earlier, passage of the legislation is far from certain, since there is opposition in some quarters.

The House Judiciary Committee has not yet begun work on a companion bill.

The committee also discussed, but did not vote on, a business-methods and a fee-diversion amendment.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a business-method patent under the precedent that abstract ideas are not considered patentable.  In response, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) presented a business-methods amendment.

This would introduce a new program that would, “apply not to novel products or services, but to abstract and often common concepts of how to do business,” said Schumer.

A well-known example of a business method patent is one-click purchasing option at the online retailer,

Leahy said he is not in favor of dubious patents on business practices, but he worries that the amendment is too broad.

Kyl said it was a major disappointment that a conclusion was not reached during the committee hearing.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) proposed the fee-diversion amendment, saying fees ought to be utilized for a relevant purpose, not to help other federal government finances. He suggested increased oversight by the committee, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that responsibility should remain within the Senate Appropriations committee.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) echoed Coburn’s argument calling fee diversions “a pathology of the way we do business” in government.

While the vote was 15-0, Cornyn and Coburn abstained from voting.

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Friday, January 21st, 2011

Bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee leaders said they will introduce legislation next Tuesday to provide the most significant updates to the U.S. patent system in almost six decades.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and incoming Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), along with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), will offer changes to the patent system they say are intended to streamline the patent process, improve patent quality and better protect inventors.

The Patent Reform Act of 2011 will resemble legislation the panel worked on in the last Congress — which itself was based on a patent reform bill introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) in 2006.

“Patent reform is a commonsense, bipartisan effort to protect jobs and bolster the economy,” Leahy said in a statement. “The Patent Reform Act of 2011 is the product of years of careful consideration and compromise. Promoting economic growth continues to be a top priority for both Democrats and Republicans, and patent reform is part of that effort.”

Leahy is looking to move quickly on the bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman placed the bill on his panel’s agenda for its meeting next Thursday.

The bill modified by the Senate Judiciary Committee last year received the backing of the Barack Obama administration and others, including the United Steelworkers, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Association of Universities and the National Venture Capital Association. But the Patent Reform Act of 2011 will likely face opposition, as its predecessor did.

“We will reserve judgment until we see the final bill, but if it’s anything like the last one, we will oppose it,” Mark Isakowitz, who runs the Coalition for Patent Fairness, which includes companies including Intel Corporation, Oracle Corporation and Google Inc., told the National Journal’s Tech Daily Dose blog Thursday prior to the release of the bill’s text.

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Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The Justice Department urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to stop its review of four patent protection rules until the next U.S. Patent and Trademark Office director is sworn in, The National Law Journal reported today.

The district court knocked down four rules that govern patent prosecutions, but a three-judge Federal Circuit panel upheld three and knocked down one. An en banc review of the rules by the U.S. Court of Appeals is scheduled to begin October 7. The case is Tafas v. Doll.

David Kappos (Marquette University Law School)

David Kappos (Marquette University Law School)

President Obama nominated David Kappos last month to lead PTO. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on his appointment tomorrow. The DOJ asked the court to resume proceedings 60 days after the confirmation of the new PTO director in order to give the official time to review the rules, The Journal reported.

According to The NLJ, The DOJ added:

“The challenged rules at issue are not currently being enforced by the USPTO, which is enjoined from implementing them, and the Office will not implement them during the requested stay.”

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Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Federal Judicial Center published a report about the appointments of special masters in patent cases. The analysis was based on 116 patent cases terminated in 2005 and 2006 that were identified as having involved special masters.

The report says:

Special masters tend to be appointed in the most complex (i.e., long duration) of patent cases. These cases are the least likely to be resolved through a negotiated settlement and are among the most expensive and long-lived cases. Masters tend to be appointed after the case has already endured longer than the average case, suggesting that the court and parties have recognized the complexity of the issues at hand and seek expert help.


Some interesting tidbits:

  • More special masters were appointed in 2003 (23) than in any other year since 1988.
  • The Northern District of Georgia had an unusal number of special masters (10) appointed relative to the number of patent cases filed. The analysis was based on cases terminated in 2005-06.
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