Critics skewer House patent bill

Groups that have been critical of patent reform efforts are assailing House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteBottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself MORE’s patent bill, which was amended and approved by the panel on Wednesday.

Despite amendments to the Innovation Act — including a bipartisan amendment to appease Democratic concerns about the bill’s affects on the court system and an amendment from Goodlatte (R-Va.) that stripped it of its most controversial provision — critics say the bill will harm innovators.


Intellectual Ventures — a company known for bringing patent infringement lawsuits — said the bill will make it harder for patent-holders to enforce their intellectual property rights.

While the company “supports the goals of discouraging frivolous lawsuits and reducing the cost of patent litigation,” provisions in Goodlatte’s bill “will make it harder, more expensive and more time consuming to enforce patent rights,” Russ Merbeth, chief policy counsel, said in a statement.

“While the purpose of The Innovation Act is to address certain problems that persist, many provisions of the bill, as currently drafted, would complicate and delay the determination of a patent’s validity and degrade a patent’s usefulness in protecting invention, and in promoting investment and innovation.”

Merbeth said his company wants to help Congress “meet the worthy goal of reducing frivolous litigation and specious demand letter practices while protecting the legitimate enforcement of intellectual property rights by American inventors and innovators.”

The Innovation Alliance — which has lobbied against certain patent reforms — said it supports the goal of the bill but is concerned about the Innovation Act’s potential affect on innovators.

In a statement, the group said it has “significant concerns about a number of provisions,” including a provision that would limit the scope of information that a company being sued has to turn over to the company bringing the suit.

“We hope that together we can achieve a consensus product that will successfully target abusive behavior and be a force for progress for the full range of American innovation,” the alliance said.

Others who have been critical of Goodlatte’s Innovation Act in the past praised the version that was approved by the committee Wednesday.

BSA, the Business Software Alliance, commended Goodlatte and the committee “for refining the Innovation Act and moving it forward.”

Goodlatte’s amended bill “reduces the financial incentive for bad actors to engage in it,” the group’s Government Relations Director, Tim Molino, said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with Congress to continue improving the bill as it advances through the legislative process toward final enactment,” he said.

Microsoft, a member of the BSA, also said it supported the amended Innovation Act.

"We appreciate Chairman Goodlatte’s leadership and the hard work of the House Judiciary Committee in crafting patent-reform legislation that addresses abusive behavior while protecting innovation," the company's Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez said in a blog post.

"Wednesday’s actions are a promising step towards enacting meaningful reform, and we ask members of the House of Representatives to support the bill when it comes to the floor."