Posts in Capitol Hill

Patent Reform Doesn’t Prevent Rise in Patent Litigation?

I fail to see how the increase in individual suits suggests in any way, shape or form that the AIA has failed. Because there was a spike in litigation leading up to September 16, 2012, and because the AIA by its express terms requires more patent infringement cases of smaller scope, patent reform has failed. Unbelievable! How can something fail when it is working as intended?

Artists Oppose Internet Radio Fairness Act Pushed by Pandora

The stars, who included Alabama, Sheryl Crow, CeeLo Green, Billy Joel, Maroon 5, KISS, Ne-Yo, Katy Perry, Pink Floyd, Megadeath and many others, praised Pandora, saying: “We are big fans.”  But with massive growth in revenues and a successful IPO under its belt, the artists are wondering why Pandora is pushing Congress to slash musicians’ pay.  “That’s not fair and that’s not how partners work together,” the open letter explains. The Internet Radio Fairness Act Pandora is promoting would get them out of their 5 year old negotiated deal. Doesn’t Congress have more pressing matters?

Why Bipartisanship Matters

The Bayh-Dole Act unlocked those discoveries that were made with taxpayer money. It allowed businesses and nonprofits, such as universities, to retain title to their inventions that were made with federal funds and to license them to private companies for commercialization. It was a brilliant piece of bipartisan legislation that set the stage for commercializing hundreds of products, including life-saving treatments to which many of us cancer survivors owe our lives.

Copyright Issues on the Legislative Agenda for 2012-2013

Though they are unlikely to take center stage during the truncated session before elections or the post-election lame duck session, lawmakers will have to contend with several key copyright issues during the 113th Congress. Thus, no matter who wins on November 6, IP leaders in the House and Senate are likely to use the remainder of this calendar year to set the stage for next year’s copyright agenda. The priority copyright issues for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 are: (1) Anti Piracy Initiatives; (2) Internet Issues; (3) International Agreements; (4) Music Licensing; (5) Book Licensing; and (6) TV Broadcast Issues. Each is discussed more fully below.

Here they go again – this time with the Patent SHIELD Act

Indeed, the bill’s co-sponsor acknowledges and states “[t]his bill combats the problem of patent trolls by moving to a ‘loser pays’ system for software and hardware patent litigation.” However, the bill’s sponsors fail to explain what makes the frequency, risk, or social harm of “egregious” patent lawsuits any different than those of other “egregious” civil suits in America so as to single out patent right enforcement for a special treatment under civil law. In fact, the following graph shows that in the last four decades the number of patent lawsuits filed per year has risen at slower pace than other IP lawsuits or when compared to all Federal civil suits. Patent lawsuits now constitute a little over 1% of all Federal civil suits – the same fraction as that in the mid 1970’s.

The Smart Phone Patent Wars: Is Government Action on the Horizon?

Last month, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives held hearings related to patent disputes, the ITC, SSOs and FRAND licensing – no doubt precipitated by the smart phone patent wars. On July 11, 2012, the full Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Impact on Competition of Exclusion Orders to Enforce Standard-Essential Patents.” Witnesses at the Senate hearing included the Acting Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A week later, on July 18, 2012, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held a hearing entitled “The International Trade Commission and Patent Disputes.” Witnesses at the House hearing included Professor Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University School of Law, IP Counsel for Ford, VP of Litigation for Cisco, the General Counsel of Tessera Technologies, and the President of The American Antitrust Institute (AAI).

Congress Considers Significant Limits to Design Patents

Where exactly does the right to have a repaired vehicle look exactly like a new vehicle come from?  I don’t find that in the Constitution either, but once again patents are right there in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8. For crying out loud it isn’t even like these folks don’t have the ability to repair their cars to brand new.  They can if they use OEM parts.  The trouble is that the insurance industry doesn’t want to pay and would prefer to use cheap, inferior parts rather than OEM parts.  So stiffing innovators is a right of consumers and insurance companies and the fact that the casualties will almost certainly be American jobs is just another inconvenient truth.

New Patent Reform Takes Swing at Patent Trolls

Yesterday Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced the Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act, or SHIELD Act for short. If ever passed into law the SHIELD Act would ostensibly adopt a variation on the English Rule, where the losing patent owner pays the legal fees of the victorious patent defendant when there was no “reasonable likelihood” that the patentee would prevail in the litigation. If theAct required a claim chart upon filing, applied across the board to all those who would seek to manipulate the patent system and not just computer/software patents and defined “reasonable likelihood of success” I would be on board with both feet.  As it is, I am on board with one foot and hopefully that improvements can be made to this important piece of legislation.

Weakening the ITC’s Patent Jurisdiction Will Harm US Economy

Licensing U.S. intellectual property strengthens the economy and improves our trade balance. Section 337, the statute that regulates unfair practices in import trade, is a key element of the nation’s trade laws and ensures that American innovators, including licensing companies, will not be harmed by the importation of goods that infringe valid and enforceable U.S. patents. Importers of foreign made products – both U.S. based and foreign companies – have appealed to Congress for several changes to Section 337 that would, in effect, limit access to the ITC and/or weaken the powers of the ITC to deal with cases of unfair trade practices. Weakening the ITC’s jurisdiction would benefit foreign economies, foreign competitors, and other foreign manufacturers to the detriment of the U.S. economy.

The Patent Twilight Zone: Keeping Significant Innovations Secret

It almost boggles the mind, but this Federal Register Notice explains that the USPTO is undertaking a study to determine the feasibility of requiring economically significant patents to be kept under lock and key. Yes, pursuant to a request from our brilliant members of Congress the USPTO is going to study whether economically significant patents should be placed under a secrecy order, thereby scuttling any opportunity for the innovation to be patented until such time as it is no longer economically significant.

BIO Hails House Passage of FDA Safety and Innovation Act

It will enhance the development and review of innovative new therapies through increased transparency and scientific dialogue, advancements in regulatory science and strengthened post-market review. It will also increase FDA’s access to external expertise to improve the drug review process. FDASIA will foster timely interactive communication with sponsors during the drug development phase as a core Agency activity to facilitate the conduct of efficient and effective drug development programs and help make safe and effective drugs available to the American public in a timely manner.

BIO Lauds Senate Passage of User Fee Package

The inclusion of an enhanced Accelerated Approval pathway, crafted by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), will help expedite the development of modern, targeted, and personalized therapies for patients suffering from serious and life-threatening diseases while preserving the FDA’s robust standards for safety and effectiveness. Senator Hagan is to be congratulated for her hard work and leadership on this very important provision.

Prior User Rights and the Incentive to Keep Innovations Secret

However, if prior users are keeping their technology secret while being protected, that leap-frogging from one breakthrough to the next be impeded. Disclosure is the backbone of the progression of the sciences for this reason. “[T]he ultimate goal of the patent system is to bring new designs and technologies into the public domain through disclosure.” Bonito Boats v. Thunder Craft Boats, 489 U.S. 141, 151 (1989). Sharing ideas allows others to improve upon the state of the art and as a result, better products such as medicine and consumer electronics are brought to market thereby driving our economy and benefiting the welfare of the U.S. as a whole. Prior user rights, on the other hand, will inhibit this progression.

Beware the NOT so Technical AIA Technical Amendments!

The troubling news starts with the fact that a technical amendments bill to the America Invents Act (AIA) that is working its way around Capitol Hill, and in true government by ambush fashion it could work its way into a bill at any time! What is the big deal about technical amendments? The problem is that not all of the amendments will be “technical.” For example, there is a plot afoot to change the estoppel provisions in the AIA relative to post-grant review and inter partes review. In my opinion there would have been absolutely no chance that the America Invents Act would have passed if the estoppel provisions for post-grant review only applied to issues actually raised.

OPEN Act Would be Ineffective at Stopping Online Piracy

Simply stated, the OPEN Act would be completely and totally ineffectual and, therefore, it must be opposed. There is simply no point in enacting more pointless legislation, we have enough pointless legislation already. Content creators cannot create in a vacuum devoid of economic reality. If you take eyeballs away and/or provide things for free that are supposed to be paid for you are causing injury and making it all the more difficult to be a content creator. Think about it for a second. The content that you most value, is that created by commercial enterprises or people just doing it for free as a hobby in their spare time? If you are honest with yourself we both know the answer.