Posts in Legislation

Flawed Scheme to Lower Prescription Drug Prices Would Do the Opposite

The waning days of summer signal the approaching midterm election season. Amid inflation, recession and voter discontent, it’s understandable that a group of congress members are anxious to put points on the board with a price-control scheme that they wrongly believe will lower prescription drug prices. Though the goal is laudable, their approach would prove disastrous to American innovation while failing to deliver anything but higher prices for American consumers. In a recent letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, 100 congressional lawmakers urged him to use his administrative authorities to leverage various intellectual property-related laws as a means of implementing price controls on patented drugs. But undermining intellectual property protection would put a deep chill on healthcare innovation, both at home and globally.

With Congress and Courts at Standstill, IPWatchdog LIVE 2022 Panel Says Upcoming ‘Action’ on 101 Will Be at USPTO

During a session titled “Politics, Policy and Legislation” on Monday at IPWatchdog LIVE 2022, three panelists who have each played a role in shaping patent law over the years discussed recent developments in patent eligibility reform, and congressional interest in so-called patent thickets being fueled by continuation patents and other topics.

The Path Forward from American Axle: Discussing Legislative and Agency Rulemaking Fixes to Section 101

Last year, there was a great amount of confidence among those in intellectual property circles that the U.S. Supreme Court might finally provide some much-needed clarity to Section 101 subject matter patentability after a petition for writ of certiorari was filed in American Axle v. Neapco Holdings. On the second day of IPWatchdog LIVE 2022, panelists at the breakout session titled “Where Do We Go From Here on Patent Eligibility After American Axle” discussed what opportunities were left for fixing patent eligibility law after the Supreme Court denied cert in that case.

Senator Tillis: Here’s the Answer to Section 101

In early August, Senator Tillis (R-NC) proposed legislation called the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, (S. 4734). US Inventor wrote a response to this legislation showing how it will destroy already damaged patent protection for U.S. software inventors and startups. Included in this destruction will be some of the most important inventions to U.S. technological development, economic growth and national security, like artificial intelligence, security systems, block chain, quantum computing, and much more, including anything that could compete with Big Tech’s core technology.  This legislation is dangerously misguided. In a recent interview with IP Watchdog, Tillis was asked about some of the fatal concerns we identified in our response. Tillis brushed those concerns off by saying that he doesn’t want to hear complaints without solutions.  Fair enough. 

Perlmutter Reports to IP Subcommittee on CCB Performance, Deferred Exam Alternatives

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property yesterday held a hearing on “Oversight of the U.S. Copyright Office,” with Register of Copyrights and Director of the Copyright Office, Shira Perlmutter, as the sole witness. Perlmutter updated the senators on a number of projects in process, including how the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), a small copyright claims tribunal implemented as part of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, is working so far.

Let’s Do Something About the Unauthorized Doctrine of Non-Statutory Judicially Created Obviousness-Type Double Patenting

In a June 20, 2022, article on IPWatchdog, I addressed a portion of the June 8, 2022, letter from Senators Leahy, Blumenthal, Klobuchar, Cornyn, Collins and Braun  to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal requesting the USPTO to issue a notice of rulemaking or request for comments in the Federal Register by September 1, 2022, on curbing continuation practice as a means to address “patent thickets.”  As of the date of this article, the USPTO has not issued the notice. In this article, I, along with co-author Anthony Prosser, address the other issue raised in the Senators’ June 8 letter—whether elimination of terminal disclaimers that “allow” patents to issue that are “obvious variations of each other” would increase patent quality and whether patents that are tied by a terminal disclaimer should be considered an admission of obviousness and stand or fall together in litigation.

Eliminating the Jargon: An Alternative Proposal for Section 101 Reform

On August 3, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, which would amend the U.S. Patent Act to clarify the patent eligibility of certain technologies under 35 U.S.C. Section 101. Few would disagree that the current state of eligibility jurisprudence is in “abysmal shambles”, and recognizing that U.S. eligibility law needs changing comes from both side of the aisle, as Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) has long questioned the court-made exceptions to patent eligibility….. I have extensively followed the developments of 101 jurisprudence in the courts and the efforts of those in Congress to enact statutory changes to Section 101. In so doing, I have contemplated how Section 101 could be improved, and thus my proposal regarding how to revise the statutory language follows.

Tillis Addresses Criticism of His Eligibility Reform Bill, Warns WD of TX Not to Backtrack on Standing Order

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has been perhaps the most active and passionate Congress person when it comes to intellectual property (IP) rights, and patents specifically, in recent history. In early August, he released the first draft of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, which if enacted would abrogate the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012). He has also been closely involved with oversight of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on topics such as patent quality and has written numerous letters to the Biden Administration on issues including the waiver of IP obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, the theft of U.S. IP by Chinese companies, and more. While he seemed fairly exasperated by the end of his last attempt at eligibility reform in 2019, he explains below that the Supreme Court’s refusal to fix the problem by denying the American Axle case inspired him to revive his efforts.

EFF Vows to Take Out Tillis’ Eligibility Bill

Last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced that it is launching a campaign against Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) proposed “Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022,” which would effectively abrogate the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012). The EFF’s post claimed the bill “would tear down some of the public’s only protections from the worst patent abuses.” While many in the patent community welcomed Tillis’ renewed attempt at clarifying U.S. patent eligibility law, others said the bill would create more problems by failing to clearly define terms like “technological” and including language that would be problematic for software patents.

Streamlining Patent Examination: Amendments to Canada’s Patent Rules Coming Into Effect Soon

Responding to the patent term adjustment obligation under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and to “streamline the patent examination process”, the Canadian government has registered major changes to the Canadian Patent Rules. The amendments will come into effect on October 3, 2022, and include notable modifications to the patent application examination process, such as establishing excess claim fees for over 20 claims, fees for continuing examination beyond three office actions, and offering conditional notice of allowance.

CHIPS and Science Act Neglects the Importance of IP Rights in Encouraging American Innovators

On August 9, President Joe Biden signed into law the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act, enacting a major legislative package that will provide $280 billion in federal funding to encourage the domestic production of semiconductor products in the United States as well as fund research and development projects in advanced technological fields like quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Although the 1,000+ page bill establishes massive investments into several areas of developing technologies, it focuses very little on the intellectual property rights that are critical for protecting the new technologies that would be developed through federally funded projects.

A Plea to Senator Tillis: Words Matter in Section 101 Reform

In U.S. government, setting public policy is the sole and exclusive domain of Congress. The laws they pass effectuate the public policy positions that Congress alone has the power to set. In law, words are everything. The precise meaning of the words in law determines whether the public policy is implemented as intended by Congress. Altering the meaning of just one word can change the entire public policy set by Congress, even turning the public policy on its head. Anyone following the debate on patent eligibility can attest to how the Supreme Court’s redefinition of the word “any” in 35 U.S.C. § 101 to have an exception called an “abstract idea” caused a significant public policy change and that change destroyed countless startups, especially those in tech. Senator Tillis’ Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, wrongly puts the courts in charge of defining public policy because it leaves key words completely undefined.

Tillis’ Promised Patent Eligibility Bill Would Overrule Myriad, Mayo

Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the Ranking Member of the Senate IP Subcommittee, released the first draft of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, which if enacted would, at a minimum, overrule the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S.Ct. 2107 (2013) and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012)…. This legislation would absolutely be a solution to many of the patent eligibility problems that have plagued the industry for the last decade. Of course, if the tech giants in Silicon Valley think this will hurt them the bill will be killed, period.

A Cautious Welcome: Patent Community Chimes in on Tillis’ Eligibility Bill

This morning, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022, S.4734, which would amend the U.S. Patent Act to clarify the application of 35 U.S.C. Section 101 to certain technologies. While the bill was welcomed by many in the intellectual property (IP) community, since it would abrogate or weaken many of the seminal decisions that have arguably caused confusion on eligibility over the last decade-plus, some have called the bill out as being far from perfect. Questions remain with respect to the text’s language regarding the definition of “technological” and what it means for software patents, for instance, as some commenters note below.

Senate Judiciary Committee Advances USPTO-FDA Collaboration Bill Toward Floor Vote

Earlier today, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary convened a brief executive business meeting to discuss a series of judicial nominees selected by the Biden Administration, as well as a pair of proposed bills. One of those bills, the Interagency Patent Coordination and Improvement Act of 2022, follows various efforts to limit certain patent rights in the pharmaceutical industry and was passed favorably out of the Committee via voice vote toward a full vote on the Senate floor.