House patent reformers push Senate leadership for action

Tech leaders in the House are pushing Senate leadership to take up a House-passed bill to curb abusive patent infringement lawsuits.

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“We believe inaction is simply inexcusable,” Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

Goodlatte and Eshoo, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the top Democrat on the House Commerce subcommittee on technology, respectively, are vocal advocates for patent reform.

The pair pointed to Goodlatte’s Innovation Act, a comprehensive patent reform bill that passed the House late last year in an “overwhelming bipartisan vote of 325-91.”

That bill, which faced some opposition but was largely supported by the tech industry, included changes to the patent litigation system to increase transparency around which companies were bringing and threatening lawsuits and to create disincentives for companies that bring meritless lawsuits in the hopes of getting a settlement.

The bill achieved a “careful balance” and “will help fuel the engine of American innovation and creativity, creating new jobs and growing our economy,” the letter said.

The patent reform debate stalled in the Senate earlier this year, when Leahy shelved his bill after failing to get consensus among Judiciary Committee members on how broad the patent reform bill should be.

Goodlatte and Eshoo encouraged Reid and Leahy to consider the Innovation Act, which “helped set a clear bipartisan road map toward eliminating the abuses of our patent system, discouraging frivolous patent litigation and keeping U.S. patent laws up to date.”

“We believe that we can work together to improve our patent system and put our economy first,” the letter said.