On day two of IPWatchdog LIVE, J. John Lee, Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property for the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, told those who are skeptical of the chances for Senators’ Tillis and Coons’ Patent Eligibility Restoration Act (PERA) to move forward that a House version of the bill is likely to be introduced in the near future.
Lee, who is principal advisor on IP issues and helms the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, was speaking on a panel titled “Politics, Policy and Legislation at the Intersection of Intellectual Property,” which also featured David Jones of the High-Tech Inventors Alliance; Joe Matal of Haynes Boone, LLP and former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Acting Director and Acting Solicitor; and Eli Mazour of Harrity & Harrity.
Commenting that the chances of PERA moving ahead soon are slim considering the lack of consensus, Matal noted there is currently no House version of the bill. But Lee said the House version is coming. However, he added, “that doesn’t necessarily mean it will rocket to markup” and encouraged attendees to think about the bill as “just a step in a process” toward reform.
There is also a House version of the Promoting and Respecting Economically Vital American Innovation Leadership Act (PREVAIL) Act of 2023, which would significantly overhaul Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) practices. However, Lee said the bill is still in the early stages and he doesn’t expect too much action on it anytime soon.
All of the panelists lamented the lack of agreement on patent issues at the moment, which threatens to stall legislation like PERA and PREVAIL. “Part of the debate is affected by the national discourse in general,” said Lee, which too often focuses on the “exceptions rather than the rules,” he added. “That’s driving divisiveness in the country, and a refusal to work together – it’s really poisonous.”
Matal, who himself has reservations about some of the language in PERA, called out the position of US Inventor on the bill, dubbing it “crazy.”
“Gene [Quinn] is right,” Matal said. “The bill is clearly beneficial, clearly pro-patent. People need to stop listening to US Inventor.”
Jones, whose members include companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Intel and Google, does not support PERA as written, but said there could be a way to get to consensus if stakeholders would agree to options such as offering sui generis protection for specific types of inventions or other concessions. Overall though, he said the current state of U.S. patent policy is “mixed but probably mostly positive” for his members.
Lee noted the House IP Subcommittee will also be examining issues such as artificial intelligence, oversight of the Copyright Office standard essential patents and counterfeiting in the coming days and weeks.
Stay tuned for more news from Day 2 of IPWatchdog LIVE.