Thursday, April 10, 2008

Patent reform slip sliding away: "Arlen Specter has killed the patent bill"

In discussing a possible political link between judicial nominations and the patent reform bill, Keith Perine of CQ Staff writes:

Leahy said “there’s no linkage” between the patent bill and judicial nominations since “ Arlen Specter has killed the patent bill anyway.” Leahy had been hoping to introduce a new version of patent legislation this week, but has been delayed because of a disagreement with Specter over the issue of how to assess damages in patent infringement suits.

Is this the "blame game" to force Specter to relent, or is it an accurate assessment of the future of S.1145?

Perine also writes:

Specter, the top Judiciary Republican, said some GOP senators might want to retaliate by blocking a patent bill (S 1145) by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy , D-Vt. “In some quarters within the Republican Caucus there’s consideration at the present time to holding up the patent reform bill,” he said.

And, if some Democrats pay attention to the "patent reform means lost jobs" argument of unions, and if the Democratic senators of pharma states (like New Jersey) vote the pocket book, it's tough to see S.1145 going anywhere.

Of Specter, Congressional Documents and Publications noted:

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, today released the following statement on the current state of patent reform legislation negotiations:

"The Chairman and I differ on a number of aspects of the proposed patent reform legislation," Senator Specter said. "The principal sticking point is the issue of how to assess damages in patent infringement lawsuits. We thought we had reached an agreement on this matter, but the language continued to shift, so we do not yet have a deal on the package. I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement, but more work has to be done to get it right."

Almost time to stick the fork in it...

See also:

Senator Specter jumps off patent reform bandwagon

Note also that the BIO statement about the Specter position sounds almost like the labor union position:

“The revisions to the bill that have been proposed to date continue to include key provisions that would jeopardize many economic sectors, such as biotechnology, that rely on strong patent protection to help fuel American economic growth. Senator Specter and other Senators were right to reject them. This is not a risk that the Senate should take at a time when we need to do all we can to support innovative, growth-oriented American industries and a fragile U.S. economy.

The IT folks, with their strong outsourcing of jobs, are a bit vulnerable on this point. An don't forget those patent applications on outsourcing!

Recall, for example, the IPBiz post:

In a rather humorous event, IBM confirmed in Oct. 2007 that that it has withdrawn its patent application for “outsourcing of services” which it had filed on January 3, 2006 [appl.11/324958; US2007/0162321 — Outsourcing of Services].

In terms of what might have influenced Specter's decision, recall that CAFC Chief Judge Michel once worked for Specter (Michel was Specter's chief of staff). See further details in an article by Lawrence Hurley in the Daily Journal.


Blogger Jason Taylor said...

Lawrence B. Ebert wrote,

“Is this the "blame game" to force Specter to relent, or is it an accurate assessment of the future of S.1145?”

Good question. I personally think S.1145 was brought down by the unions’ recognition that it would effect job creation and the subsequent fear by S.1145’s backing politicians that they might actually lose too many votes and be held especially accountable for their actions by the voters during an election occurring in a recession (see, e.g., from Monday’s New York Times). Why should they admit defeat, when they can instead milk it into something that helps them on other fronts and keep their options open for the future? Gotta love politics. Or not.

Great blog btw.

--Jason Taylor

5:46 AM  

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