Obama thanked for patent reform nod

The two lawmakers driving the patent reform debate on the Hill — Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) — thanked President Obama for his continued calls for patent reform. 

During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama called on Congress to “pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly and needless litigation.”

Goodlatte’s bill, the Innovation Act, passed the House last year. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Leahy, is currently considering Leahy’s bill, holding staff briefings on proposals from other committee members.

Both bills are aimed at limiting “patent trolls,” or firms that make money by bringing or threatening merit-less patent infringement lawsuits in the hopes of getting the defendants to settle.

On Twitter, Leahy said he was pleased that Obama’s address “highlighted [the] Senate’s work to #stoppatenttrolls.”

Small businesses shouldn’t be sued for using off-the-shelf tech products, he said.

In a statement, Goodlatte, the House Judiciary committee chairman, said he is “encouraged by the president’s continued willingness to work with Congress in order to stop abusive patent litigation.”

“Businesses both large and small are affected by this growing problem and the enactment of the Innovation Act is central to U.S. competitiveness, job creation, and our nation’s future economic security,” he said. “I look forward to working with President Obama and the Senate to see that patent litigation reform legislation is signed into law.”

Advocates in the tech industry also applauded Obama for supporting patent reform during his address Tuesday.

“President Obama’s emphasis on this issue demonstrates that this is a bipartisan, achievable piece of economic legislation that promotes innovation across American industries,” said the Coalition for Patent Fairness — which includes Google, Samsung and Cisco.

Obama’s mention “reflects the broad recognition that patent trolls are a multi-billion dollar drain on our economy,” according to Ed Black, CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association — which includes Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

Black called on the Senate “to take up and complete its passage of meaningful patent reform legislation.”