OVERNIGHT TECH: Senate passes patent reform, sends bill to President’s desk

THE LEDE: The Senate voted 89-9 Thursday afternoon to approve the House version of the America Invents Act, sending the first major overhaul of the nations patent and trademark laws in 60 years to the presidents desk for a signature. The passage marks the culmination of a six-year campaign by supporters including a host of corporate behemoths and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to shift the United States from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system, which they say will bring the country in line with most competing nations.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) took the floor to argue the changes would heavily favor large companies against small inventors, but her amendment was defeated along with the other two offered Thursday. The most controversial was a measure from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that would have put an end to the diversion of fees collected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office but was narrowly defeated after Leahy warned the amendment would have killed patent reform. Similar language passed the Senate earlier this year but raised strong objections from House Appropriations Committee members. President Obama is likely to sign the bill in the near future, as both parties have framed it as a job-creating measure.


“For a cutting-edge industry like software, operating under a 60-year-old patent system has sometimes felt like sailing with an anchor overboard. Today’s passage of the America Invents Act is like cutting the rope. It marks a momentous change that will help accelerate technology innovation.” — Business Software Alliance President and CEO Robert Holleyman.

“The global race to make discoveries and get inventions into the marketplace first requires that American innovators have a streamlined patent-approval process. For too many years, they didn’t. The system was slow, costly, and didn’t adequately protect the rights of intellectual property holders. This legislation changes that, and further defends patented entrepreneurs from being the target of job-destroying predatory lawsuits.” — House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)

“H.R. 1249 brings our patent system into the 21st century, reducing frivolous litigation while creating a more efficient process for the approval of patents. These reforms will help the innovators and job creators of today launch the products and businesses of tomorrow.” — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)

“The last time our patent laws were significantly updated was in 1952. The nature of our economy has changed significantly since then, and it is only right that Congress review our patent laws and amend them as necessary to make sure they still work efficiently to promote progress and innovation as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.” — Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet

“The America Invents Act, coupled with recent court decisions that provide more clarity and confidence for inventors, puts our patent system in a much better position to spur innovation and economic growth in the 21st century.” — Robert Weber, IBM senior vice president for legal and regulatory affairs. 

Blumenthal bill would boost privacy and security requirements for businesses: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Thursday became the latest lawmaker to introduce legislation aimed at safeguarding consumers from privacy breaches and unauthorized sharing of personal data. Blumenthal’s bill includes stiff penalties for firms that fail to implement adequate privacy and security safeguards for personal data collected from consumers. The bill would also up the penalties for such computer-related crimes as identity theft and create a national data-breach-notification standard.

On Tap Friday: 

The Public Safety Alliance will hold an event at 11:30 a.m. at the National Press Club to remember the victims of 9/11 and to reiterate the group’s call to allocate the D block of spectrum for a nationwide interoperable network for first responders.

Web privacy hearing next week: The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent out a notice during President Obama’s speech announcing a hearing next Thursday, Sept. 15, on the impact and burden of European Union privacy regulations. The hearing should provide insight into lawmakers’ stances about potential regulation heading into the upcoming debate on comprehensive privacy legislation.

Lawmakers want more testing for LightSquared: Federal officials and lawmakers at a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing Thursday said more testing is needed of LightSquared’s proposed wireless network because it could interfere with Global Positioning System devices, including those used to track hurricanes and other weather patterns. The hearing was a setback for wireless startup LightSquared, which has already invested billions of dollars into its hybrid service that would rely on both satellites and land-based cell towers to provide wholesale broadband access.

Former telecom exec sentenced to 46 months in prison: The former CEO of a Florida telecom company was sentenced to 46 months in prison, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Jorge Granados, the former CEO of LatiNode, pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to bribe Honduran government officials.


The Justice Department approved Cumulus Media’s purchase of Citadel Broadcasting, provided the firm divests stations in Flint, Mich., and Harrisburg, Pa.

Google purchased the restaurant review site Zagat to boost its local offerings and recommendations.

The telecom providers touted their plan for overhauling the FCC’s Universal Service Fund.

A group of tech entrepreneurs spoke out against Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) online copyright bill.

House members want the FCC to license more low-power community FM radio stations.

Ousted Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz refers to the board members that fired her as “doofuses.”

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