US Patent Reform Legislation Progressing; Committee To Reconvene Next Week26/03/2009 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.The committee of the United States Senate drafting legislation to reform the US patent system made little progress at a meeting Thursday, according to sources, but adopted a bipartisan amendment and scheduled to reconvene next week to continue work. The patent reform issue has caused bitter divisions in recent years but may be showing signs of bringing opposing sides closer this year, some say.At a business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, according to the office of committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (Democrat, Vermont), the committee adopted a bipartisan amendment. The amendment was sponsored by Leahy and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah), and committee members Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Jon Kyl (R-Arizona).The panel is expected to continue consideration of the legislation on 31 March, the office said.[Updated: 28 CEOs from some of the largest corporations in the world sent a letter to President Obama urging patent reform. Letter available here.] Leahy and Hatch introduced the patent reform bill, S 515, on 3 March (IPW, US Policy, 4 March 2009), and a hearing was held on 10 March.“We are making progress toward the kind of consensus that Senator Feinstein talked about at our hearing earlier this month,” Leahy said in a statement. “By continuing to work together in good faith, I believe we can report a good bill. Patent reform is an important way that this committee can contribute to restoring our economic engine and supporting economic recovery.”Gary Griswold, chairman of the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, said in a statement afterward that consensus remains elusive on damages paid for infringement, a key sticking point in the debate.“America’s patent system is crucial to all innovators and researchers and most particularly during this time of obvious economic turmoil. Our coalition of over fifty member companies supports today’s action to take more time to try to achieve a consensus on the legislation,” Griswold said. “At this point we do not believe consensus has yet been reached on damages language that we believe is critical for the bill to move forward. We will continue to work with committee members and others on developing legislation that is fair and balanced.”A representative of the Manufacturing Alliance on Patent Policy (MAPP) said afterward that it was pleased that Leahy joined Feinstein in emphasising that legislation must maintain balance between industries. MAPP said it is encouraged on damages but remains concerned about other aspects of the bill it sees as potentially harmful to manufacturers, particularly post-grant opposition.These more difficult issues are expected to begin to be discussed at the 31 March markup, sources said. Leahy, Hatch and others are continuing efforts to resolve them, Leahy’s office said.Leahy’s office said the amendment adopted Thursday includes language to: tighten the language on prior art and derivation proceedings; clarify that first-window post-grant review proceedings must be instituted by the director; correct drafting errors in the inter partes reexamination section and elsewhere; and add a provision that permits patent holders to “virtually mark” a product by providing the address of a publicly available website that associates the patented article with the number of the patent.More details on Thursday’s meeting and amendment are available here.Leahy signalled his intention to keep the patent bill a high priority. “The time has finally come for Congress to act,” Leahy said. “The time for posturing has ended and the time for reaching agreement has arrived.”Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedWilliam New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."US Patent Reform Legislation Progressing; Committee To Reconvene Next Week" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.