Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Press Release by Coalition for Patent Fairness of July 18

The Coalition for Patent Fairness issued a press release on July 18 containing the text:

Legislation that would represent the most fundamental patent reform in decades today was unanimously approved by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The bill would foster greater innovation by American companies and enhance U.S. competitiveness. It now heads to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote.

"Today's successful mark-up demonstrates Congress’ seriousness in dealing with the overwhelming need for balanced and comprehensive reform," said Jonathan Yarowsky, counsel to the Coalition for Patent Fairness. "Chairman Conyers, Ranking Member Smith and Representative Berman have clearly demonstrated that they are leaders on patent reform. We look forward to working with all members for swift passage on the House floor.”

The full committee mark-up follows a successful Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property mark-up in May where the bill was considered and passed by voice vote one month after its introduction.

A broad and diverse cross-section of U.S. businesses, leading legal scholars, economists and policymakers has recognized the need for patent reform. Leading legal scholars and economists have spoken out about how urgent the need is for patent reform and opinion-leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post, have editorialized in support of passing patent reform legislation without delay.

Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court recently has found it necessary to review an unusual number of patent-related cases in order to correct – often with unanimous rulings – imbalances in the judicial interpretation of core principles of patent law and procedure. However, only Congress can implement the comprehensive reform needed to restore balance in a number of areas of the patent system. The Patent Reform Act of 2007 will do just that.

The Coalition for Patent Fairness supports patent reform legislation that:

· Balance the apportionment of damages. The standard for calculating damages should be based on the fair share of the patent’s contribution to the value of a product, and not on the value of a whole product that has many other components.

· Establish fair standards for punitive damages. Awarding punitive, triple damages for “willful” patent infringement should be reserved for cases of the most egregious conduct, as required by the U.S. Supreme Court for virtually all other punitive damages.

· Restrict forum shopping. Cases should be brought in courts with some reasonable connection to the case and not, by gaming the system, in courts solely because they historically favor patent claims.

· Improve patent quality. The system should promote quality patents by providing a meaningful second chance for the experts at the PTO to review potentially problematic patents in a timely manner, and should promote sharing of information with the PTO to improve the process and increase innovation.

For an earlier, relevant post on IPBiz, see Dell's Peterman needs to check his facts. Dell is a member of the Coalition for Patent Fairness.

A story in Forbes (from the AP) includes relevant facts not in the press release of the Coalition for Patent Fairness:

--> the second window of post-grant opposition has been removed. Forbes writes:
One of the biggest changes, proposed by Berman, alters the post-grant review process by eliminating a provision that allowed open-ended challenges to a patent's validity. The bill now largely limits such challenges to the first 12 months.

--> the apportionment of damages provision has been altered. Forbes writes: The committee also amended a controversial provision regarding how courts can calculate damages in patent suits. The original bill required courts to more closely tie damages to the actual value of the patented technology, rather than the value of larger goods that include the patented item as a component. The committee amended the bill to allow judges to choose between those and other methods, depending on the facts of the case.


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