February 6, 2011 Legislation/Patent Reform
Senate Judiciary Approves Patent Reform Bill 15-0
The Senate Judiciary Committee on February 3, 2011, approved 15-0 the “Manager’s Amendment” to S. 23, patent reform legislation that would, among other things, implement a first-inventor-to-file system, revise provisions on damages awards, create a new post-grant review system, and grant the PTO fee setting authority. At the Judiciary Committee markup session, several amendments to the bill were approved (1) to delete provisions that would have addressed willful infringement; (2) to delete provisions that would have repealed the requirement that Federal Circuit judges reside within 50 miles of the District of Columbia; and (3) to add a provision addressed to Holmes Group v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., 535 U.S. 826 (2002), defining the Federal Circuit’s exclusive appellate jurisdiction as including compulsory counterclaims arising under the patent or plant variety protection laws. AIPLA President David Hill said “the Senate Committee’s action is very encouraging, and Senator Leahy’s comments about his cooperation with the leadership in the House have us hopeful that patent reform may soon become a reality.” Referring to next week’s planned hearing in the House on reform legislation, AIPLA Executive Director Q. Todd Dickinson said “We are pleased that both houses are taking up patent reform so soon after convening, which we hope is a positive sign about eventual passage.” Yet to be resolved are two important proposals: (1) provisions to give the PTO funding that protects against diversion of its fee revenue; and (2) a proposal to create a special reexamination procedure to reconsider the business method patents under Sections 101 and 112 of the Patent Act. Some other changes have been made to the legislation to refine and clarify language or to make changes that conform to other provisions. For example:
- Amendments to Section 292(b) in S. 515 would have eliminated qui tam actions for false marking, allowing only actions for those suffering competitive injury; S. 23 would now also amend Section 292(a) to expressly state that only the United States may bring a penalty action under that provision;
- Section 32 on the statute of limitations for PTO actions against attorneys for misconduct no longer runs from discover, whenever that occurred; now the provision states that proceedings must begin either within 10 years of the misconduct or 1 year after the misconduct is discovered, whichever is earlier; and
- Language in Section 282 on the presumption of validity which cross referenced Section 103(b) is deleted because Section 103(b), addressing patented processes to make biological products, would be repealed based on case law development and non-use of this provision.
To read the Manager’s Amendment approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, click here.
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