Friday, March 13, 2009

The role of John Conyers in patent reform 2009?

Text at betanews speaks to the damages apportionment issue in the "patent reform" movement:

But the value of that patent in the modern market is determined by its defensibility -- literally, how much it can rake in, in infringement cases. Without that market value, much of the incentive for trying to build new technologies in the first place, may be lost.

That's the implication of a letter sent by a newly assembled coalition of manufacturers, most notably including Monsanto, along with the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), to Senators Patrick Leahy (D - Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R - Penn.), and to Reps. John Conyers (D - Mich.) and Lamar Smith (R - Tex.), the chairmen and ranking members of committees that will be deliberating the latest round of patent reform legislation to be deliberated on Capitol Hill, probably throughout this year.

One notes that in 2009, it is John Conyers, not Howard Berman, who will play a big role in patent reform in the House. Conyers has taken a strong, pro-protection, role in copyright. This shift in personnel should be noted in the reform calculus. The top players in the Senate (S.515 are the same), but keep in mind patent reform does not go along party-line vote.

EETimes on damages apportionment:

Opponents claim the mechanism called apportionment the new bill uses to determine damages won't work outside the computer and communications industries where hundreds of patents go into a single system.

"If you go to any other industry the amount of patents is small--it might be five or even one, said Tom Kelly, general counsel of Monsanto and a member of the Innovation Alliance, a group of technology licensing companies including Dolby Labs, Qualcomm and Tessera that organized a separate press conference.

The InnovationAlliance site contains the letter of ACORE to Leahy and Hatch, which begins:

We write today regarding the importance of the United States patent system to our
transition to a clean energy economy. Our companies and those we represent are committed to
nurturing the innovation pipeline and subsequent domestic manufacturing capacity that will build
the next generation of energy efficient, renewable energy, and renewable fuel technologies,
creating thousands of American jobs in the process. However, we are concerned with recent
legislative proposals to make fundamental changes to the US patent system that we believe
would weaken, rather than strengthen, patent protection, putting this innovation pipeline and
subsequent American manufacturing capacity at risk.

The patent reform legislation that has been introduced would reduce penalties for patent
infringement by changing the law of damages. This change would elevate the importance of one
of the factors now considered in calculating patent damages. By giving this one factor –
apportionment – a preeminent position in damage calculations, proponents of the legislation
would have achieved the goal of reducing damage awards. This type of reduction in the value of
intellectual property rights could adversely affect the future of our industries in the United States
in two ways.

***from a previous IPBiz post-->

IP-watch also noted:

Meanwhile, intellectual property issues - including patent reform and internet neutrality - in the 111th Congress will be taken up by the full House Judiciary Committee, and no longer by the Subcommittee on Courts, Internet, and Intellectual Property. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, heads the Judiciary Committee.

**bio from infoplease:

CONYERS, John, Jr., a Representative from Michigan; born in Detroit, Wayne County, Mich., May 16, 1929; attended Detroit public schools; B.A., Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich., 1957; LL.B., Wayne State Law School, Detroit, Mich., 1958;


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