Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood released the following statement on the introduction of the America Invents Act, H.R. 1249, in the U.S. House of Representatives:
BIO praises House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) for his introduction of a comprehensive patent reform bill similar to the bill adopted by the U.S. Senate earlier this month by a nearly unanimous vote.
The America Invents Act is a clear improvement over prior House versions of patent reform legislation. We are pleased that the legislation will end, once and for all, the diversion of fees collected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, allowing the agency to use all of its fees to hire more examiners, reduce the backlog of pending applications, and make other improvements to its operations. We also commend the inclusion in the bill of many other reforms that will improve the patent system and enhance patent quality, including transition to a “first-to-file” system, the elimination of other subjective elements of patent law, and a new supplemental examination proceeding for use by patent owners.
BIO has serious concerns with several significant changes made in the House bill regarding the inter partes review system. Taken as a whole, these changes would make it easier to bring frivolous challenges to patents, harder for patent owners to enforce them, and more likely that patent owners will find themselves in duplicative and costly patent-related proceedings. These changes negatively alter the carefully-crafted balance between patent owners and accused infringers that was achieved in the Senate bill – a bill that won support not only from 95 Senators, but from a wide range of industries, universities, and small businesses across the spectrum of American innovation.
BIO also is concerned about the inclusion of broader prior user rights in the House bill, and believes that this issue, coupled with the harmful inter partes review changes, could set back efforts to pass meaningful patent reform this year by undermining the broad coalition of American innovators currently supporting patent reform.
Small biotech companies rely on intellectual property to attract investors to fund the lengthy and expensive research and development process necessary to bring breakthrough new therapies and other biotech products to patients and consumers. It is critical that patent reform legislation preserves and enhances the incentives necessary to sustain our nation’s global leadership in biotechnology innovation and to spur the creation of high-wage, high-value jobs throughout the country. Improving our patent system can help America retain its global competitive advantage in biotechnology and other innovative industries, and will spur more investment and job creation at a time when both are sorely needed.
BIO thanks Chairman Smith for beginning the patent reform process in the House, and we look forward to working with him and the other members of the House Committee on the Judiciary to ensure that patent reform legislation enhances patent quality and increases the efficiency, objectivity, predictability, and transparency of the patent system to benefit all sectors of our nation’s economy.