Coalition Statement on Patent Reform Legislation

The Chairman of the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, Gary Griswold, released the following statement after the introduction of The Patent Reform Act of 2009, in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. The bills introduced in the House and Senate today contain several provisions that did not have sufficient support to become law because of the potential negative impact on innovation and job growth.

Our coalition is committed to achieving reforms that will enhance the patent system so that valid patents are issued promptly and cost efficiently thereby encouraging innovation that will create jobs and promote America’s economic recovery. Legislation that makes these kinds of changes will permit Congress to reach useful and effective reforms to the patent system, and should be passed in the 111th Congress.

In that regard, we look forward to working with Chairman Leahy and members of the Senate, as well as Chairman Conyers and members of the House of Representatives to reach a consensus that is fair, balanced and allows us to continue fostering innovation and job creation in the United States.

Unfortunately, several provisions in the bill are problematic because of their potential negative impact on innovation and job growth. For example, the damages methodology in this bill heavily favors infringers over inventors. At a time when we need to stimulate our innovation and aid U.S. manufacturers, this bill sends an international signal that patented American technology can be copied with little or no consequence. We will erode our global leadership in research and invention if we eviscerate this cornerstone of our patent system. Specifically, provisions intentionally designed to reduce damages, such as ‘prior art subtraction,’ should not be part of any patent reform enacted by Congress.

Our coalition believes the Congressional focus should be on making the reforms that all stakeholders agree are necessary to remedy the problems facing the Patent and Trademark Office and the patent system. To do otherwise holds hostage the good reforms on which there is wide consensus.

While the PTO continues to struggle examining patent applications in a timely and efficient manner, the courts have made progress in resolving issues that gave rise to controversial proposals to reform the patent system. In other words, the courts have been systematically resolving complex issues in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner, while the PTO has been unable to process and promptly grant valid patents needed by American innovators.

We need creativity and innovation leadership from all inventors and industry sectors, not just a few. Our coalition looks forward to engaging in a continuing dialogue with the House and Senate as well as other stakeholders to improve the quality of patent system and promote the broader public interests.

The coalition has 50 members from 18 diverse industry sectors and includes many of the nation’s leading manufacturers and researchers. The coalition’s steering committee includes 3M, Caterpillar, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and Procter & Gamble. The coalition has members in a variety of industry sectors including: Aerospace and Defense, Chemical, Computers, Diversified Financials, Diversified Technology, Energy, Food Production, Forest & Paper Products, Health Care, Household & Personal Products, Industrial Equipment, Medical Equipment & Devices, Network & Communications, Payroll Services, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Semiconductors & Electronic Components, and Transportation Equipment.


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2 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Bernar]
    March 23, 2009 05:07 am

    If Congress, in it’s usual infinite unwisdom, wants to do something about damages, why don’t you start with the leading case (Georgia-Pacific) which has been accepted by all courts (including the Federal Circuit) as setting forth the best test (or at least best set of factors) for determining damages.

  • [Avatar for EG]
    March 11, 2009 10:17 am


    I have a suggestion for making the “damage” provision palatable: codify the 15 Georgia-Pacific factors and be done with it. Georgia-Pacific recognizes that each damage case is different and unique, and may require application of different sets of these factors. Also, you won’t have as much difficulty hitting equilibrium in the case law as these factors already have quite bit of case law to provide guidance on these factors, and how to use them. By contrast, the proposed damages provision, being completely new, will require much longer to reach that equilibrium. I see no point in “reinventing” the standard where there’s a good one already in place in the case law; codifying that standard will simply confirm that.

    If Congress, in it’s usual infinite unwisdom, wants to do something about damages, why don’t you start with the leading case (Georgia-Pacific) which has been accepted by all courts (including the Federal Circuit) as setting forth the best test (or at least best set of factors) for determining damages. The current damage provision proposed isn’t even close. And if Congress wants to ignore the Georgia-Pacific factors, and put in this new nonsensical (and frankly nebulous) provision on damages, then by all means let this oxymoronic “patent law reform” legislation sink with no survivors.