Patent reform gets key support in House

Patent reform legislation favored by the biopharmaceutical industry is receiving key support in the House after sailing through the Senate.

Reps. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.) are circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter urging support for the America Invents Act, arguing that replacing the current "first to invent" patent process would help "create jobs across the country, grow businesses and help us better compete in the global economy." The House Judiciary Committee has already cleared the bill, 32-3, and the Senate passed its version by a 95-5 vote.

Separately, more than a dozen law professors wrote to the chairman of the Judiciary panel to counter arguments that the bill could be unconstitutional.

"Congress has discretion in defining the term 'inventor,' " reads the letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R- Texas), "and is able to specify conditions that true inventors must satisfy in order to be awarded a patent."