Patent Reform Legislation Makes Progress in the 112th Congress

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On March 30th the House Judiciary Committee introduced H.R. 1249, the “America Invents Act.” That same day, the committee held a hearing to explore the issues still dividing stakeholders. After six years and three congresses (109th-111th), it finally appears legislation could make it to President Obama’s desk this year, although challenges remain.

Patent Reform in the House of Representatives

While patent reform has been stalled in the House for several years, that chamber did succeed in passing a patent reform bill in 2007. At that time, when Democrats held the Majority in the House, Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX) were able to garner enough support to pass H.R. 1908, albeit narrowly, by a vote of 220 175. That bill contained a number of problematic provisions for a wide range of industries, including a provision that would alter the way juries calculate damages awards upon the finding of infringement of a patent (in effect reducing them), and the creation of a new post-grant review system that would make it easier to challenge a patent’s validity after it was issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). After much debate, the Senate failed to pass a companion bill.

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