Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mark-up on Patent Reform Act of 2007

The Coalition for Patent Fairness announced its support for the markup on May 16, 2007 of the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 1908). The features the Coalition emphasized were aspects to:

· Balance the apportionment of damages. The standard for calculating damages should be based on the fair share of the patent’s contribution to the value of a product, and not on the value of a whole product that has many other components.

· Establish fair standards for punitive damages. Awarding punitive, triple damages for “willful” patent infringement should be reserved for cases of the most egregious conduct, as required by the U.S. Supreme Court for virtually all other punitive damages.

· Restrict forum shopping. Cases should be brought in courts with some reasonable connection to the case and not, by gaming the system, in courts solely because they historically favor patent claims.

· Improve patent quality. The system should promote quality patents by providing a meaningful second chance for the experts at the PTO to review potentially problematic patents in a timely manner, and should promote sharing of information with the PTO to improve the process and increase innovation.

The Coalition pointed to the following events:

A number of reports from independent sources such as the Federal Trade Commission, the National Academy of Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations have analyzed how imbalances in the current patent system are harming our nation’s competitive position in the worldwide economy. Leading legal scholars and economists have spoken out in support of patent reform and opinion-leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Los Angeles Times, have editorialized in support of passing patent reform legislation without delay. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court recently reviewed an unusual number of patent-related cases -- including high profile cases including Microsoft v. AT&T and KSR v. Telefax just last month -- in order to correct imbalances in the judicial interpretation of core principles of patent law and procedure.

(The Coalition might want to learn how to spell Teleflex!)

Everything seems to be working like clock-work.

***See also (on the "other" coalition)

IPBiz notes that the report of the National Academy of Sciences was created through the auspices of STEP, the National Academies Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy. STEP was formed a decade ago for the purpose of bringing economics to the National Research Council more directly. Economics had been part of the National Academies’ structure for about 25 years, but studies done at the National Research Council—which has a mandate to advise the federal government on issues related to science and technology—did not exploit the potential of economics.
[taken from the nap site.]

Thus, the first page of the report notes:


Stephen A. Merrill, Richard C. Levin, and Mark B. Myers, Editors

Committee on Intellectual Property Rights in the Knowledge-Based Economy

Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy

Policy and Global Affairs Division

One notes that the report was supported by a contract between NAS and NASA (NASW 99037) AND support also came from Pharmacia, Merck, Procter & Gamble, and IBM.

The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform includes Merck and Procter & Gamble.

The NAS committee members included Gerald Mossinghoff (who resigned before the report came out), Bronwyn H. Hall, Richard R. Nelson, Gail K. Naughton, and, of interest to CIRM matters, Roger Noll and Edward E. Penhoet.

[NAS was chartered by Congress in 1863, during the Civil War, to help organize knowledge to support the Union cause in the Civil War. The National Academy of Sciences was limited originally to fifty distinguished scholars, who would elect all future members. Wikipedia has some early history. The first request for advice was from Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, who wanted a study on the "uniformity of weights, measures, and coins, considered in relation to domestic and international commerce." On May 8, 1863 Admiral Charles H. Davis, a Navy officer and charter member of the Academy, called upon the Academy to consider ways for the Navy to protect the bottoms of its new iron-hulled ships from corrosion and other damage induced by salt water. As a separate, but related, matter consider the roles of the NRC and NACA during World War I.]


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