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.

Continue Reading Will Copyright Reform Come Before Patent Reform?

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

Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee began marking up the Patent Reform Act. At the beginning of the Committee’s public markup session, Committee Chairman Leahy (D-Vt.) stated that he wanted to finish the markup Thursday, vote on the bill and send it to the full Senate. The Committee, however, only got through two amendments, one of which was a “manager’s amendment” which just includes technical/clerical revisions.” And Leahy, prodded by several Republican senators and Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), agreed to provide the Committee additional time to consider the Act further. The one substantive amendment (which you can read here) further limited venue in patent cases. The amendment was strongly worded stating that in any patent case:
. . . a party shall not manufacture venue by assignment, incorporation, or otherwise to invoke the venue of a specific district court.
This preamble language is very interesting. It has the potential to lead to a big increase in initial motion practice in which defendants argue that whatever entity sues them was created to create venue in the jurisdiction. But this problem is seemingly resolved because in almost all cases plaintiff’s principal place of business or state of incorporation will not create venue, it will almost always be based upon defendant’s footprint and infringing activities. The amendment goes on to specify that venue would be proper:
1. where defendant has a principal place of business or is incorporated;
2. where defendant has committed “substantial” infringing acts and maintains a physical facility constituting a “substantial portion” of defendant’s operations; or
3. where plaintiff resides, if plaintiff is a university or an individual inventor.
The 271 Patent Blog also has a good post on the markup.

Continue Reading Patent Reform Act: Senators Limit Venue

When the Patent Reform Act of 2007 was unveiled, the conventional wisdom was that the law would be enacted and remain largely intact, unlike the 2006 version which was never sent to the White House. But it has hit its first delay, shortly after its first public hearings last week. Earlier this week, five Senate Judiciary Committee (which is considering the Act) members — Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Jeff Sessions of (R-Alabama), Chuck Grassley of (R-Iowa), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) — sent a letter to the Committee’s Chair Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and its Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania). The Senators sought a delay in voting on on the Act and reporting it out of the Committee to allow time for additional hearings to explore, among other issues:
Apportionment of damages;
Post-grant opposition procedures;
Granting the USPTO broad rulemaking authority;
How to improve patent quality; and
“[E]xamining the problem of speculative litigation and alternatives to stopping unnecessary and costly litigation.”
Blogs have been actively covering the letter and its implications:
Patent Docs
Promote the Progress
Patent Prospector
Patent Baristas
Promote the Progress
Patent Prospector
Patent Baristas

Continue Reading Patent Reform Act Hits a Snag?

Wednesday, the Senate held its first hearings regarding the Patent Reform Act. Both the main stream media and the legal blogs are busy handicapping the battle over the legislation and the Act’s chances of success. Here are some of the highlights:
The WSJ Law Blog handicaps the big players in Patent Reform’s Battle Royale
The WSJ print edition featured the Senate hearings in a page-one story (subscription required).
FileWrapper provides a nice summary of each witness’s positions.
The New York Times also ran a Business section story.
Patent Prospector takes a very strong position:
The thankful result of today’s Senate hearing is watching the Patent Reform Act of 2007 appear the statutory tub of lard that it is.

Continue Reading Patent Reform Enters the Spotlight