Issa vows to protect language in patent bill

Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 Indicted lawmaker Duncan Hunter fails to land endorsement from local GOP Duncan Hunter challenger raises over 0,000 in third quarter MORE (R-Calif.) on Wednesday vowed to resist efforts to water down a bill meant to crack down on patent abuse. 

The Innovation Act introduced last week was negotiated last Congress and previously passed the House by overwhelming margins. 

Issa, who leads the Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property and himself owns dozens of patents, said any change to the legislation must increase the vote count.

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"I want it to be understood clearly," Issa said during a speech Wednesday. "I inherited a bill with broad bipartisan support. I have no intention of watering it down to please one group, unless in fact, that group brings two, three or four votes for everyone we lose."

Along with legislation, Issa said his subcommittee would be working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on increasing the quality of patents awarded in the first place. The patent office recently announced a new focus on the issue. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) reintroduced the patent bill last week. It would make changes to legal procedures meant to rein in vague and abusive litigation by so-called "patent trolls" looking to negotiate settlements. 

Issa noted that the bill passed last Congress by a 325-91 vote.  

"You can imagine the likelihood of significant change in this bill in the House is low," he said. "And the Senate is really no different. The changes will be minor, but they may occur."

The Senate had previously indicated it would wait for the House to act. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has not ruled out attempting to move a proposal first. 

Issa specifically vowed not to revise the provision on heightened pleading requirements that would force patent holders to provide more detail in their initial court filings when alleging infringement. He also said a provision on fee shifting is likely locked down in the House, despite some Democratic skepticism brought on by lobbying from trial lawyers. 

"I'm not saying anything out of school to say that it's often very difficult to get some of my Democratic colleagues on to anything that hampers, if you will, plaintiffs trial lawyers," he said. "In this case, the language was designed, and I believe, will continue to be fairly narrow."

The language of the so-called customer stay provision will be one area where the language could be tweaked, he said. The provision is meant to delay lawsuits against end users until litigation against the actual manufacturer of the technology has finished.