Patent Reform Picks Up Dual Momentum in Both Houses of Congress

Miguel A. Martínez, Jr. photo

This week has seen positive developments on patent reform in both the House and Senate, suggesting the potential for even more progress in 2014.  On Wednesday, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) secured a strong bipartisan House Judiciary Committee vote of 33-5 to pass the Innovation Act.  This important legislative effort to curb abusive litigation by patent trolls picks up momentum as it heads to the House floor. 

After months of discussion drafts and stakeholder comments, the Innovation Act was introduced last month in a bipartisan fashion by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), along with a group of 9 additional original cosponsors from both sides of the aisle.  ITI applauded the bipartisan commitment to reduce the enormous costs imposed on innovation, and here again, we take note of yesterday’s overwhelming vote as confirmation that there is clear, overwhelming support and energy in Congress to stem the tide of abusive patent litigation.

Despite laws enacted in 2011 to improve patent transparency, the number of abusive patent suits filed each year continues to increase dramatically.  These costly lawsuits are a tax on innovation and a drain on both our nation’s judicial resources and economic vitality.  American businesses are forced to spend billions of dollars against abusive and expensive lawsuits – vital resources they would much rather invest in our economy by hiring workers, building facilities, and investing in research & development. 

Last night’s vote was a very important step towards tackling this problem.  Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) this week introduced their version of patent reform legislation, the “the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act,” launching what we hope will be a similarly constructive process on that side of the Hill.  ITI will continue to work with Members of Congress as this process moves forward.  It is imperative that Congress pass legislation that promotes innovation, preserves and promotes justice, and prevents the waste and abuse of valuable public and private sector resources.

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