One of the most troubling provisions in the Innovation Act creates mandatory stays of discovery in patent infringement cases. Such mandatory stays would prolong litigation, increasing costs, while placing a company’s intellectual property in legal limbo. Equally frustrating, the provision is completely unnecessary, as the Judicial Conference, which makes policy for U.S. courts, is already requiring proportional discovery and additional discovery management by district court judges.
The bill also mandates enhanced pleading, requiring detailed information that may not be available to patent owners at the start of the case. This, too, would delay litigation, reducing each patent holder’s ability to protect their intellectual property. However, once again, the Judicial Conference has already addressed the need for greater specificity during pleading. The conference eliminated Form 18, which was often used to justify the most meager patent infringement claims. These enhanced pleading standards alleviate the need for legislative action.
In addition, the bill could have even more far-reaching consequences. Organizations that would normally be outside the scope of legal action could be brought into litigation as unwilling co-plaintiffs, putting companies, universities, research institutes, venture capitalists and others at risk for paying a variety of legal expenses.