Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Senate/House members to propose new patent reform legislation on April 18, 2007

The Coalition for Patent Fairness has announced a teleconference following the anticipated release on April 18 of a new patent reform measure:

The Coalition for Patent Fairness, a coalition representing business leaders and innovators across the financial services, technology, energy and chemical, manufacturing and media sectors, will host a media teleconference today, Wednesday, April 18, at 3:30 p.m. EDT to discuss the bipartisan, bicameral patent reform legislation scheduled to be introduced this afternoon by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Congressman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). After brief remarks, reporters will have an opportunity to ask questions.

WHAT: Teleconference to discuss patent reform legislation

WHEN: Wednesday, April 18, 2007

3:30 p.m. EDT


CNET had posted on April 17:

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) plan to unveil their respective bills, which are expected to be identical, at a press conference at the Capitol at 2:15 p.m. EST.

The chairmen of the intellectual property panels in their respective chambers have been vowing in recent months to prioritize efforts to make what high-tech companies argue are critical changes to the patent system. Earlier efforts at altering key facets of the system have been bogged down in disagreements among various industries and failed to go to votes.

The bills' language was still being finalized as of Tuesday evening, aides to the politicians said. Stay tuned to CNET for coverage of their new proposal as more details emerge.

Note also the April 6 discussion in the Recorder by Jessie Seyfer:

Cisco Systems General Counsel Mark Chandler, together with the technology lobbying group TechNet, held a fundraiser in February at his home for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., one of the authors of a 2006 comprehensive patent reform bill. Cisco, like the other big Valley names in TechNet -- Apple, eBay and Google among them -- are frequently the targets of infringement complaints that are incredibly costly to resolve, Chandler told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last May.


There's a common feeling that perhaps the quality of patents coming out of the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] have not been of optimal quality, and a lot of invalid patents get through," said Google Associate General Counsel Michelle Lee. "Parties take invalid patents and go to legitimate businesses and say, 'You're infringing.'"


Meanwhile, another crucial force in Silicon Valley's economy -- venture capital -- has taken a stance contrary to some of its biggest tech success stories. The National Venture Capital Association believes that giving people more leeway to challenge the quality of patents -- which is what the big tech companies want -- would be unfair to startups.

"The cost of defending your intellectual property rights is extraordinarily burdensome for a small company," said Wisconsin venture capitalist John Neis, who spoke to the House Small Business Committee last week about the issue.

Neis said large companies can afford to keep infringing because they can keep smaller companies whose patents they're infringing lost in a tangle of litigation.

"For these very small companies in their formative stages, they have a modest amount of resources and want to spend it on research and development. ... They don't want to be spending their money on attorneys."


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