Now that the Senate Is Back from Recess, Can We Finally See a Patent Reform Bill?
Patent reform language floated around the Hill last week while Congress was on recess. A recent draft included a retroactive effective date of April 24, 2014. While final phrasing for the upcoming Senate patent bill isn’t known, rumors of this start date were enough to spur action: on Wednesday, April 23—a day before reforms would presumably come into effect—trolls filed a total of 184 lawsuits against businesses big and small.
Clearly, the proposed reforms have patent trolls shaking in their boots.
But in order for these changes to actually pass, the Senate needs to hear from you—you the user, you the innovator. We've been working with Engine Advocacy and a handful of partners to create FixPatents.org, where you can easily call your senator and demand patent reform. (Alternatively, you can dial 888-657-0866.)
Right before Congress went on recess, Senator Patrick Leahy said: "I will circulate a manager's package [for the patent reform bill] the day we return from recess, and the Judiciary Committee will consider that legislation the first week we are back." That day was yesterday, and we still haven't seen an agreed-upon bill yet.
What we know is that Senators Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn have been working with key members of the Judiciary Committee to come up with a compromise package. The fundamentals are there; the bill will address many of the issues we want fixed, such as fee shifting and protecting end users.
The question—and the biggest point of contention—is the extent of the reforms. A particular band of players are opposing strong reforms, from tech giants who have stockpiled huge patent portfolios, to university technology transfer offices struggling to justify their budgets, to patent trolls themselves.
Many of these players argue that current reforms would hamstring the patent system to such an extent that all innovators will suffer. We strongly disagree. We've said it time and again, but if your patents are valid and high quality, you have nothing to worry about. The additional overhead costs—around, for example, being transparent about patent ownership or being upfront about the basis and scope of a lawsuit—are necessary changes that will close gaping loopholes that trolls and bad actors are exploiting today. These reforms serve the public interest, which, ultimately, is what the patent system is all about.
We hate to sound like a broken record, but our lawmakers have delayed long enough: call your senators and demand strong patent reform. Go to FixPatents.org or call 888-657-0866 today.