By Kim Hart - 02/25/10 04:25 PM EST
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said on Thursday that a tentative agreement has been reached in the long-running battle over patent reform.
The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman specifically said he's reached a tentative agreement "in principle" with the Patent and Trademark Office and other senators to push a patent reform bill forward.
The sticking point in patent reform legislation, which has put tech companies and the pharmaceutical industry at loggerheads, has been over damage awards for infringements.
"We are close to a compromise that will address these issues," Leahy said during an executive business meeting Thursday. "No one will think this is a perfect bill, but we are close to a comprehensive patent reform bill that benefits all corners of the patent community."
Leahy said details of the compromise bill will be finalized in the coming days after discussions with the House.
"Intellectual property is the engine of our economy," he said. "Reforms to our patent system will protect inventors and promote innovation."
Ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said, "We're pretty close to having it right."
Leahy gave a shout-out to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), his "longtime partner on intellectual property issues."
"I look forward to working closely with all members of the committee who have probably spent more time on patent law than we would like," he said.
Pharmaceutical companies, joined by small manufacturers, have argued against limiting damages in patent infringement cases, while technology companies, burned by lawsuits, have pushed for a reform bill with limits on damages.