Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), along with Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), have unveiled a bipartisan and bicameral framework on Section 101 patent reform. The framework, released last week, is short – only one page – but the intent is clear: temper the Section 101-based rejections … Continue Reading
The Patent Reform Act is on the Senate's calendar and is expected to be voted on in February. The version voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee is different than the version passed by the House. Experts expect that, instead of forming a joint committee to resolve the differences which generally requires a second vote by both chambers, the House will vote on any version of the Patent Reform Act passed by the Senate.
That means that it is time to take a close look at the Senate version of the Patent Reform Act. The damages and venue provisions continue to be some of the most significant and hotly-contested. And it is no surprise that the various stakeholders are making their positions heard loudly again. I considered analyzing each provision of the current Senate bill, but Patent Docs beat me to it and did an excellent job:
First to file
Several other blogs are also keeping a close eye on the stakeholders and the sausage-making aspects of the Patent Reform Act, among the best:
271 Patent Blog
Maryland IP Law Blog (and here regarding the increased internet coverage of Patent Reform during February)
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With Patent Reform not expected to be considered by the full Senate before January 2008, the House appear to be turning its focus to copyright reform. The Maryland Intellectual Property Law Blog has a series of posts on the new copyright legislation (click here and here to read them). The most recent bill would prevent lawsuits from being dismissed for unintentional errors in copyright registration forms and would give courts discretion to treat compilations as more than one work for statutory damages purposes. Treating compilations* as multiple works for damages is significant because it increases the potential award for infringing a compilation from a maximum of $150,000 (the maximum willful infringement award for a work) to multiples of $150,000 depending on how many separate works the court determines the compilation to be.
* Compilations are grouped works such as collections of short stories, magazines with multiple articles or databases.
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The House of Representatives passed the Patent Reform Act 225-175 this afternoon. I have not been able to find the final version of the bill yet or any information on the final version of the venue and damages provisions, but it appears that the bill includes revisions to current law in both areas. I will … Continue Reading
I, along with many others, blogged last week that the Patent Reform Act had stalled in Congress. But Congress has changed its mind and today the House is debating its version of the bill (available here). And experts expect some version of the bill to be passed by the House at the end of today's debate. You can find an excellent summary of key amendments to the House bill at Tech Daily Dose. If you want a list of each amendment to the bill, by Congressperson, go to the House website. And it should come as no surprise that with the Patent Reform Act moving forward again both the MSM and blogs are full of commentary. Here is some of the best:
Chicago Tribune surveys the opinions of some Chicago-area companies.
271 Patent Blog weighs in with the President's view and a survey of news stories on the Act.
FileWrapper says that the House will likely pass some form of the Patent Reform Act today, but that the Senate is not expected to consider it until October.
IP Central is watching the House debate on CSPAN and says that most of it centers on procedural issues, not substance.
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My recent story about Ebert's use of his "Two Thumbs Up" has been receiving a lot of attention (and I even scooped the Sun-Times):
Likelihood of Confusion -- Ron Coleman agrees with E. Leonard Rubin, interviewed in the Chicago Tribune today, who says that the written "Two Thumbs Up" mark is pretty strong.
Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times -- Feder says that the "Two Thumbs Up" mark is "the most powerful and influential symbol in movie marketing."
The fact that the Patent Reform Act has stalled in Congress, which I discussed earlier this week, has been picked up by several blogs:
Maryland IP Law Blog -- Citing my post.
Patently-O -- Dennis Crouch says that the Patent Reform Act is not just stalled, it is dead.
271 Patent Blog -- Leads with a great Simpsons' quote in saying the Act is on hold.
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This week the House Judiciary Committee sent its version of the Patent Reform Act of 2007 to the full body for a vote. The damages provisions that Federal Circuit Chief Judge Michel publicly spoke against remained in the House bill, but the controversial post-grant review process was removed completely, instead of being limited as many interested … Continue Reading
In yesterday's edition, the Chicago Tribune published a commentary on the Patent Reform Act of 2007 by Cummins-Allison Corp.'s Chairman William J. Jones -- Cummins-Allison is based in Mt. Prospect, Illinois and develops and distributes coin and currency handling/counting machines. Jones has strong feelings about the Act and offers some unique opinions. First, he is against "harmonizing" US law with international patent laws, arguing that the European and Japanese systems are "parochial." He also makes the, in my experience unfair although widely held, argument that the Chinese system "specializes in intellectual property theft." I believe if you look at recent Chinese cases or the experts on Chinese IP law -- like the excellent IP Dragon -- you will see that China has become increasingly willing to protect the intellectual property of foreign entities, as long as the entities have invested in the necessary Chinese patents, trademarks, etc.
Jones notes that at the recent Congressional hearings, no manufacturing firms testified, despite some interesting statistics:
U.S. manufacturers undertake 60 to 70 percent of the nation's research and development and hold 60 percent of its patents.
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. . . . Roughly one-third of all patent applications are made by independent inventors, small manufacturers, universities and non-profit research groups. Their efforts are crucial for leading-edge scientific advances, and their views should be heard.
Jones is against the proposed post-grant review process because he believes it will diminish the value of patents by making their strength very uncertain. He also suggests that instead of giving an "overburdened" PTO broad, new rule-making powers, Congress should fully fund the PTO so that it can hire and retain a high quality staff of sufficient size to expedite the prosecution of patent applications. Finally, Jones points to what he believes is the diverse opposition to the Act, which he argues warrants taking the time for additional, robust debate.
Jones has some very strong views, not all of which I agree with. But I do not see how additional debate and discussion could harm the Act at this point. There are some strong dissenting voices, the Federal Circuit's Judge Michel for example.
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The John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property has published an article by Ray Niro senior partner of Niro Scavone, traditionally a patent plaintiff’s firm, calling for an end to name-calling in the patent world: Raymond P. Niro, Who is Really Undermining the Patent System — "Patent Trolls" or Congress?, 6 J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. … Continue Reading
In January the House of Representatives passed a bill that would establish a pilot program in five district courts to develop district court judges with patent expertise. The program will provide judges in the five districts the opportunity to get specialized patent training. Cases, including patent suits, in the five districts will continue to be … Continue Reading
Father Robert Drinan, S.J. died on Sunday. Father Drinan was a founder of modern (post-Watergate) legal ethics and a colorful, important character in American political history, having been a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment proceedings and an outspoken critic of American activities in Vietnam and Cambodia while he was in … Continue Reading