Senator Specter jumps off patent reform bandwagon
Patrick J. Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, lost support of a key Republican on Wednesday as he seeks to hash out new language for legislation overhauling the nation’s patent laws.
“I cannot join him on some parts of the bill,” said Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the committee’s ranking member. Specter said the issue of how to assess damages in patent infringement suits remains the “principle sticking point” between him and Leahy.
Specter’s apparent defection is a blow for Leahy, who has been negotiating new language with him and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the lead Republican cosponsor. Leahy is preparing to bring the bill (S 1145) to the Senate floor later this month.
Leahy has been expected to introduce his latest version of the much-anticipated bill for several days. He has reserved the Senate television studio for a news conference two days in a row this week, only to cancel both times.
The bill has languished for months since being approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee July 19 as Leahy and Hatch sought to find compromise language that might satisfy the many affected industries.
Separately, it remains to be seen how effective the opposition of labor unions to patent reform in discouraging Democratic support will be. Conventional wisdom says this should be a powerful dissuader on patent reform.
The fact that the Coalition for Patent Fairness has just brought in "heavy hitter" lobbyists suggests they are worried.
This "crack" in the wall follows an earlier faux pax by the Coalitions as to mis-characterizing the position of universities.
It's almost time for the Richards' line about "sticking a fork in them; they're done."