Wednesday, May 21, 2014

No U.S. Patent Reform Legislation For Now

As many of you have probably heard already, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy announced this morning that he is taking S.1720, the "Patent Transparency and Improvements Act," off of the Judiciary Committee's agenda.  Here is the text of his press release (also available here):
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.
Additional coverage is available from The Hill, Reuters, the National Law Journal/Legal Times, Patently-O, and the National Journal.  According to Kate Tummarello of The Hill, "One person familiar with negotiations said Leahy’s decision came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would not bring the legislation to the floor due to objections from the pharmaceutical industry and lobby groups for trial lawyers."  For my previous blog posts on the House of Representatives-approved Innovation Act (the Goodlatte Bill), see here, here, and here.

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