Friday, April 20, 2007

China Post on patent reform

The China Post (through AP) echoes many of the recent themes on patent reform:

**drug industry v. IT industry -->

The bill, which is similar to legislation introduced last year, is expected to reignite longstanding disagreements on Capitol Hill between a range of business groups. Companies in the technology and software industries support the legislation, while firms in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries are cool toward many of its reforms.

In a February speech, Rep. Howard Berman, a California Democrat who introduced the House version of the bill on Wednesday, blamed the pharmaceutical industry's "hold on the Republican leadership" for the failure of reform in 2006.

The article does NOT mention the opposition of small inventive entities, unaffiliated with either pharma or IT.

**Litigation, not patent quality, is the real driver of reform-->

"The object of the patent law is to promote innovation and we think the balance has been tipped away from that and has created too much incentive for ... litigation," Emery Simon, counsel to the Business Software Alliance, said. Members of the Alliance, which supports the reform legislation, include Microsoft Inc., Apple Inc., and Hewlett-Packard Co. The patent "quality" issue, based on dubious legal and numerical analysis, is a smokescreen, sort of the "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) part of the argument.

**S 3818 was introduced in 2006, but was never really pushed. Not clear this lack of effort was because of the eBay case, but the article says-->

Robert Lindefjeld, a patent expert at the Jones Day law firm, said the fact that bills have been introduced simultaneously in the House and Senate "shows unanimity in Congress about getting patent reform approved."

That has not always existed in the past, he said. Last year, the Senate held off on its bill to await a Supreme Court decision in a case involving patents and eBay Inc., he said.

**The article discussed damage matters, but did NOT discuss "post-grant review":

The bill introduced Wednesday seeks to reduce the incentives for litigation by making it harder for patent holders to show that a company has willfully infringed another company's patent, which can entitle the patent holder to triple damages. It would also require damage awards in patent lawsuits to be more closely tied to the value of the actual patented technology, rather than the value of larger goods of which the patented item may be a component. One notes the bigger stick in the patentee's weaponry is the threat of a permanent injunction. Further, a decent legal opinion will typically immunize an infringer against willful infringement. It's simply not clear that willful infringement is the "big" incentive for patent litigation.

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