Senator Coons introduces STRONG bill on patent reform
Today I’m introducing legislation in the U.S. Senate that targets abuse in focused and effective ways while strengthening the patent system as a whole. It’s called the Support Technology and Research for Our Nation’s Growth (STRONG) Patents Act, and it focuses on achieving five things:
Crack down on abusive demand letters by empowering the Federal Trade Commission to target firms that abuse startups rather than invent anything.
Ensure that pleading standards for patent-infringement cases match the standards used for all other forms of civil actions, creating a significant barrier to frivolous lawsuits before any funds are spent on discovery.
Eliminate fee diversion from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office so we can ensure that those who examine patents have adequate training and dependable funding.
Ensure balance in post-grant proceedings at the PTO, so that this expedited form of patent litigation is both fast and fair.
Analyze the impact that our patent system has on small businesses, both from the perspective of startups reliant on patents and those small businesses facing allegations of infringement.
IPBiz notes that the issue with "trolls" is not "who" is doing the litigating but with whethether or not the patent is valid.
Pleading standards are presently the same for patent litigation. As Professor Epstein
observed, the Innovation Act of Goodlatte would make pleading different for patent litigation.
Congress, and no one else, created the fee diversion problem.
TheHill spoke of the Coons bill:
CEA specifically cited the bill's silence on fee shifting, a reform that would force the losing party in patent litigation to pay the winner's legal fees if the suit was found to be frivolous. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Tuesday called a fee shifting provision "critical." Without addressing Coons's bill directly, Hatch expressed confidence that another proposal with fee shifting included could pass the Senate, saying "there is no reason to have partisanship on this issue."
Coons's more modest reforms to patent demand letters and other changes at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office won support from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries as well as universities, which remain concerned that broad reform could discourage legitimate patent litigation. The Innovation Alliance and the National Venture Capital Association also signed on.