Thursday, September 20, 2007

HR 1908: bad for start-up companies?

In an article titled: Patent law overhaul: Bad for start-ups?, Anne Broache discussed some efforts by Innovation Alliance to convey the message that the proposed patent reform legislation (HR 1908) will devalue patents and discourage investment, by making it easier to challenge patents and more difficult for patent holders to receive the damage awards they believe they deserve in infringement suits. [Dean] Kamen, for one, said the bill would be bad for anyone like him who holds many patents but does not actually build his own products, leaving that instead to deeper-pocketed companies through licensing arrangements.

IPBiz notes text of Shanna Winters, chief counsel to Congr. Berman:

"From the beginning, Mr. Berman reached out to independent inventors to try to get their perspectives and in fact made a number of changes to the bill based on what the independent inventors asked for," she said, adding that an inventor was asked to testify at a hearing about the bill earlier this year but was unable to attend.

In the full text version of GETTING THE PATENT REFORM WARS BACK ON TRACK, LBE had written:

On February 15, 2007, Congressman Berman opened a hearing on patent reform with the statement that there needs to be “an effort to improve patent quality, deter abusive practices by unscrupulous patent holders, and provide meaningful, low-cost alternatives to litigation for challenging patent validity.” Those testifying that day included Adam Jaffe, a co-author of the book Innovation and Its Discontents, and Mark Myers, Co-Chair of the National Academy of Sciences' study on intellectual property (The Patent System for the 21st Century). In a hearing that was supposed to develop the case for the need for patent reform, the testimony amounted to re-presentation of old, and questionable, arguments, but no one was speaking on February 15, 2007 to present alternative analyses. This paper is directed to such, to address the above-noted line: "But I'd like to see if other people agree."

There was much opportunity for Congr. Berman to obtain alternative viewpoints to the "input" he got on February 15, 2007, but Congr. Berman was not listening. In fact different issues have been raised: Did Howard Berman strong arm opponents of his patent reform bill, HR 1908?

IPBiz thanks a few Congressmen from New Jersey, who did take the time to listen.

Broache also wrote:

Perlman, who now runs a venture called Rearden Companies that bills itself as an "incubator of art and technologies," knows something about having his inventions scooped up by bigger firms. After all, Microsoft bought his WebTV venture back in 1997.

Although Perlman admitted he was "late to the party" and only found out about the patent reform proposal after it passed the House two weeks ago, others present at the press conference claimed the bill's sponsors have been ignoring the interests of engineers and inventors more generally. (Kamen, for his part, has testified at patent law-related hearings in recent years.)
[Kamen was not at the hearing on February 15, 2007.]

Slashdot mentioned the meeting of Kamen et al. and one commenter wrote:

I really don't understand what effects this proposed tweak to the patent system will have. I expect no one really does: the system is so unjust and complicated that it needs to be ripped out by the roots and replaced by something simple that merely "promotes science and the useful arts", without infringing our rights to free expression (including copying) more than is absolutely necessary to protect essential commerce. But if these rich guys are protesting the tweak, which would reduce their own protection (and evidently increase the rights of the rest of us to invent freely, using other inventions), then it starts to look like the reform is at least worth trying. Because they're making their money off their monopolies under the current law, and didn't seem to be so motivated by its existing injustice as to protest the old way, or to propose a workable new regime that protects the rest of us as well as it's protected them.

IPBiz notes: like they say at the Harvard Business Review --> plagiarize with pride!


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