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.
Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) today announced the introduction of the Patent Examination and Quality Improvement Act of 2022, which is aimed at “evaluat[ing] and improv[ing] the patent examination process and the overall quality of patents issued by the USPTO,” according to a press release. Last week, Tillis told IAM that he would be introducing legislation to reform U.S. patent eligibility law, which is still to come. The bill announced today instead focuses on providing clarity around “what constitutes patent quality, the setting of patent quality metrics, and how the quality of work product performed by patent examiners is measured within the office.”
Today, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property met to hear testimony from four witnesses about proposed changes to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) as outlined in the recently announced PTAB Reform Act. Subcommittee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the bill last week. Those testifying generally agreed the bill represents compromise and, at Tillis’ prompting, on a scale of green to red, scored it a green to yellow overall.
Last night, the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property published an op-ed in The Hill on the important role the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) plays in the U.S. patent ecosystem, and expressed their commitment to strong patent rights as a necessity for American innovation to flourish. “In order to ensure America’s continued dominance in all areas of innovation, we must have strong patent rights,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote. “However, for our patent rights to truly be strong, they have to be based on high-quality patents… The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) plays a critical role in this process and is a necessary backstop to invalidate truly low-quality patents that do not represent true innovation and never should have been issued.”
Earlier this month, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Strengthening Measures to Advance Rights Technologies (SMART) Copyright Act into the U.S. Senate. The bill is designed to address shortcomings with some of the statutory provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which have failed to incentivize the development of new technical measures for preventing copyright infringement online the way that Congress originally envisioned when passing the DMCA in 1998.
Over the past several years, Congress has raised a long overdue microscope to Big Tech and its worst practices and as a result, the relationship between Washington, DC and Silicon Valley has changed tremendously. Rather than being feted by policymakers, Big Tech is now being forced to answer tough questions. Elected officials are now more aware of Big Tech’s reach and impact on our elections, security, and data collection – and they are not liking what they see. These companies have intruded on nearly every aspect of American lives and have avoided any responsibility or accountability.
During a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s IP Subcommittee today, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) were the only senators present to question the Pride in Patent Ownership Act’s (PPOA’s) approach to penalizing patent owners who fail to record accurate ownership information within 90 days after the issuance date. The hearing included testimony from four witnesses on the topic of the PPOA introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) in September. Leahy explained in his introduction that the same fundamental principle of disclosure that underpins issuance of a patent should extend to patent ownership information. There is presently no requirement that ownership information be publicly available after a patent issues.
Several weeks ago, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Restoring America Invents Act, which would reverse the reforms of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) introduced by former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu. The Senators claim that the legislation is necessary, among other reasons, to prevent undermining the Congressional intent in enacting the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). According to Senator Leahy specifically, Director Iancu’s reforms politicized inter partes review (IPR) decisions by exercising discretion not to institute every IPR challenge filed by petitioners. “[Andrei Iancu] took actions that were designed to undermine the IPR process,” Leahy explained at a ceremony in September commemorating the 10th anniversary of the AIA. “[The Iancu reforms] hamstring the ability of the public to challenge poor-quality patents.”
Last night, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) released the text of the “Restoring America Invents Act”, which is meant to “support American innovation and reduce litigation,” according to the headline of the senators’ joint statement on the legislation. Many in the patent community, however, are not as optimistic. As reported previously, the bill would essentially end discretionary denial practice under precedential Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) cases such as Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc. and limit denial to petitions where “the same or substantially the same prior art or arguments previously were presented to the Office,” among other changes. Here is what a handful of stakeholders who have had a chance to review the bill had to say so far.
The much discussed, but previously unreleased, Restoring America Invents Act has finally been made public. The bill was submitted by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in what he described late last week as an attempt to reverse the reforms of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) made by former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu. Leahy promised to take aim at discretionary denials of inter partes review (IPR) and post grant review (PGR) challenges, which he did, among many other things.
IPWatchdog has obtained a draft summary of the “Restoring the America Invents Act” bill that Senate IP Subcommittee Chair, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is purportedly expected to introduce shortly. Several other outlets have reported that either Leahy himself or sources on the Hill confirmed such a bill is in the works and will address discretionary denial practice at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) under the PTAB’s precedential Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc. decision, which sets out a list of factors that the Board will evaluate in deciding whether to discretionarily deny instituting a petition due to parallel district court litigation. The draft explains that the bill would require the USPTO to institute a proceeding if it meets the statutory standards, “with discretion to deny institution based on statutory considerations, so only one action goes forward at once.”
Earlier today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Ranking Member and Chair of the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee, introduced a pair of bipartisan bills that the Senators say are aimed at improving the participation Americans from all backgrounds in the patent system and ensuring that the public knows the true owners of patents. If enacted, the Unleashing American Innovators Act (UAIA) would require the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to establish another satellite office within three years somewhere in the Southeastern region of the nation, which the bill specifically defines as Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Of course, given that the main campus of the USPTO is located in Alexandria, Virginia, it would seem unlikely that Virginia would be the final destination of any Southeast Region satellite office. The UAIA would also require the Director to determine within two years whether any additional regional satellite offices are necessary to— in the words of the bill— “achieve the purposes described in section 24 23(b) of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act… and increase participation in the patent system by women, people of color, veterans, individual inventors, or members of any other demographic, geographic, or economic group that the Director may determine to be underrepresented in patent filings.”
On Thursday, September 9, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sent a letter addressed to Drew Hirshfeld, performing the functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), discussing the issue of inconsistent statements made by patent applicants pursuant to their disclosure requirements at the USPTO and other federal agencies, especially the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Senators are asking the USPTO to take swift action to ensure that applicants are disclosing all known prior art at both the USPTO and the FDA.
On August 31, at the request of Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) provided a report to Congress analyzing infringement disputes between patent and trademark rights holders and states and state entities. The U.S. Copyright Office produced a similar, much lengthier report, also in response to a letter from Tillis and Leahy, studying whether there is sufficient basis for federal legislation abrogating State sovereign immunity when States infringe copyrights. The Senators’ letters were prompted by the March 2020 Allen v. Cooper Supreme Court decision. While the USPTO report came to no conclusions, the Copyright Office found that “the evidence indicates that state infringement constitutes a legitimate concern for copyright owners.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property on Tuesday heard from four witnesses on the topic of “Protecting Real Innovations by Improving Patent Quality.” The topic has been addressed by the Senate IP Subcommittee before, and long-debated in patent circles generally. Under the leadership of its new Chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Subcommittee now seems to be revisiting the conversation and looking for practical fixes.