WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee today overwhelmingly passed the PATENT Act by a vote of 16-4. The bill was cosponsored by Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, and committee members John Cornyn, Chuck Schumer, Orrin Hatch, Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee.
The bipartisan PATENT Act takes concrete steps to stop abusive patent litigation practices and prevent bad actors from further undermining the system that has made the United States one of the most dynamic and innovative countries in the world.
The cosponsors said that there remain a few outstanding issues. In the Manager’s Amendment, there is placeholder language for amending claims in the Patent and Trademark Office’s proceedings. Negotiations are ongoing regarding this provision. Another issue is in regards to a proposal by the life sciences community concerning the applicability of the Patent and Trademark Office’s post grant proceedings to patents that are subject to the Hatch-Waxman Act and Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act processes. The cosponsors have agreed to work on these issues as the bill proceeds to the Senate floor.
“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. These types of frivolous lawsuits cost them millions of dollars and force them to settle despite having a strong defense,” Grassley said. “This bill is the product of hundreds of hours of discussion among stakeholders, administration officials and senators. It’s a real effort to address concerns from all sides. I look forward to continuing the debate on the Senate floor.”
“When businesses are threatened with patent suits just for using a scanner they purchased, or website owners face threats simply for using basic software in e-commerce, the patent system is not working as intended. After two years of hard work, I am proud that the Judiciary Committee came together to support the PATENT Act by a wide bipartisan vote. The bill we approved today achieves a strong balance and brings needed improvements that will ensure the U.S. patent system remains the envy of the world. I look forward to the bill’s consideration in the full Senate,” Leahy said.
“This legislation will protect entrepreneurs and innovators in Texas and across the country from abusive patent assertion practices that have burdened America’s private sector for far too long,” said Cornyn. “These sensible reforms are the best way to protect access to justice for plaintiffs with legitimate claims of infringement, and to deter those who seek to game the system.”
“This is a critical step forward in leveling the playing field to fight back against patent trolls that are sucking the life out of our innovators. I hope that this balanced and bipartisan bill will move quickly to the floor,” Schumer said.
“I am pleased that the Judiciary Committee is moving forward with the PATENT Act. The fundamentals of this bill are very good, with important, commonsense litigation reforms that include fee shifting, heightened pleading standards, demand letter reforms, and a mechanism to ensure recovery of fees against shell companies. This bill is crucial for Utah businesses and families that depend on our innovation economy. There is still work we must do to strike the right balance on IPR reform, and I am committed to work through all remaining issues to ensure that innovators in every sector and industry are protected from patent trolls,” Hatch said.
“Today’s action in the Judiciary Committee demonstrates a bipartisan commitment to cracking down on the patent trolls that stifle innovation and cost our nation millions,” Klobuchar said. “Minnesota has one of the highest rates of patents per capita in the nation, and this legislation also makes important improvements to the patent review process so that legitimate patent holders can better protect their patent rights, which are vital to innovation and competition.”
“I am very proud of the work everyone has done on this essential legislation,” Lee said. “This bill protects small businesses and startups from abusive patent trolls in a manner that also honors the legitimate concerns of patent holders. I will continue to work hard to ensure a balanced approach, and I look forward to seeing this bill on the Senate floor.”