NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Patent Reform Meets Renewed Opposition

September 2, 2015

Both the House and the Senate have been working on their own versions of patent reform bills (the Innovation Act and the PATENT Act, respectively). Moreover, a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in both houses favor passage of the bills, and the White House is supportive of the proposed reforms, says senior fellow Thomas Hemphill of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

However, a coalition of ten organizations representing universities, inventors, manufacturing, technology, and life science companies has shown renewed opposition to these bills and are trying to influence the drafting of the language of the proposed legislation.

Some organizations, such as the National Small Business Association want to target the behavior of the so-called "patent trolls". Overall, they support bills that focus on reining in abusive and harassing patent demand letters as well as the ones that make invalidating existing patents more difficult.

  • The influence of these organizations is being noticed and their concerns about the potential effects on important segments of the U.S. economy are being considered.
  • Some amendments have been added to the bills to tighten the language and to bolster the importance of concepts such as "presumption of validity".
  • Further negotiations among affected stakeholders are likely, especially to balance the requirements of the life sciences industry and those of major technology companies.

Relief from abusive patent behavior is necessary but Congress will have to reach some compromises before taking the Act to the President. Most significantly, the new laws have to be carefully crafted so they don't have unintended and counterproductive consequences for the U.S. economy.

Source: Thomas Hemphill, "Patent Reform Meets Renewed Opposition," Real Clear Markets, August 31, 2015.

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