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Bipartisan patent reform bill introduced to the US Senate


  US politicians across both the Republican and Democrat parties have introduced a bill that is aimed at targeting excessive litigation from non-practising entities (NPEs).

  The Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act (PATENT Act) was introduced yesterday (April 29) to the US Senate by Chuck Grassley of the Republican Party and a representative for the state of Iowa, and Patrick Leahy of the Democratic Party and a representative for the state of Vermont.

  Among the key measures in the bill are attempts to clarify pleading standards, curb abusive patent demand letters and increase transparency.

  If approved, patent owners would have to disclose the details of the patent at the centre of the lawsuit early in the claim. Courts will also be able to place limits on discovery notices by staying requests until early motions in a case are resolved, including a defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim.

  Demand letters will also be required to include “meaningful information” so defendants can assess the claim and respond appropriately. The US Patent and Trademark Office will also be required to keep detailed records of patents so a defendant can access more information on the asserted patent.

  Grassley said: “Abusive patent litigation is a threat to our economy and costs consumers and businesses billions of dollars each year. Too often, small business owners are being targeted for doing nothing more than using off-the-shelf products.

  “The meaningful reforms in our bipartisan bill are needed to ensure that the innovation and entrepreneurship our patent system was designed to protect isn’t undermined,” he added.

  Leahy said: “When small businesses in Vermont and across the country are threatened with patent infringement lawsuits for offering wi-fi to their customers or using document scanners in their offices, we can all agree the system is not being used as intended.

  “I have been working with senators from both parties and a range of stakeholders for two years to design legislation that protects main street businesses and innovators,” he added.

  The bill follows the re-introduction of the Innovation Act in February by Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, to the House.

  One observer is expecting the PATENT Act to succeed. Jason Rantanen, professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, wrote on the Patently-O blog that “the PATENT Act is a revised version of prior proposed legislation that addresses some of the most severe criticisms of those proposals. It’s also well situated to move forward, as it’s supported by leaders from both parties”.

  On the same day as the bill was introduced, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act. The bill is designed to curb abusive patent demand letters by giving greater powers to the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate such matters.

TypeInfo: Industry trends

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