Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Patent reform press conference on 3 March 09

CNET writes: Members of the U.S. Congress plan to introduce a pair of patent reform bills on Tuesday [March 3], lending stronger support to a complicated political topic that has failed to win congressional approval in previous years.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and former chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and ranking minority member Lamar Smith (R-Texas), will discuss the reforms they see as necessary at a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday.

It's still about damages-->

The damages provision should stay out of the bill, the coalition [the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform] argues, because the issue is being addressed by the courts. In Microsoft v. AT&T, they point out, the Supreme Court limited offshore infringement liability.

"They've held up their poster boy cases and found out those were overturned," Mashek said in reference to proponents of damages limitations.

The potential economic impact

Groups in favor of broader legislation agree that recent court rulings have altered the debate, but members of the Coalition for Patent Fairness, including the Business Software Alliance, Apple, Symantec, and Google, say there is still plenty of room for clarification in the courts in the area of damages.

"There have been a number (of court decisions) since April, but none of them dramatically change our perceptions," said BSA counselor Emery Simon. "Under current law, juries are given very little guidance."

Both the BSA and Google have also been in communication with key congressmen and congressional committees. Google has faced an onslaught of patent litigation lawsuits that are driven by the potential for large damages to be awarded, said Michelle Lee, Google's head of patents and patent strategy.
"Especially in this environment where we're looking for innovation to bring us out" of a recession, Lee said, "the incentives to innovate have to be tied to the underlying reality of the contribution."


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