Senate Dem offers patent reform bill

Senate Dem offers patent reform bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMenendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions Dem report questions State Dept. decision to revoke award to Trump critic Senate Dem calls on Trump to apologize for attacks on McCain MORE (D-Del.) is introducing legislation aimed at making it easier and cheaper for patent holders to enforce their patents.

The bill is based on legislation Coons introduced last year, which aimed at making patent proceedings "more fair and efficient," according to a statement from his office.

“We must work together to ensure that the patent laws keep up with the innovators, so their ideas and businesses can fuel the American economy for generations to come,” Coons said in a statement.  

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“This means working to ensure that a patent continues to play its historic role in enabling inventors and small businesses to get funding and protect their ideas from being copied by larger corporate infringers,” he added. 

His bill has bipartisan support, including from Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: Senators show skepticism over Space Force | Navy drops charges against officers in deadly collision | Trump taps next Navy chief Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal GOP senators introduce bill to reduce legal immigration  MORE (R- Ark.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal MORE (D-Ill.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Dems introduce bill to tackle 'digital divide' Overnight Energy: Collins receives more donations from Texas oil, gas industry than from Maine residents | Interior chief left meetings off schedule | Omar controversy jeopardizes Ocasio-Cortez trip to coal mine MORE (D-Hawaii). 

A key portion of the legislation focuses on inter partes review, a controversial measure which, starting in 2012, gave the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) the authority to review patent challenges.

The USTPO’s ability to do this is currently being challenged in a case that the Supreme Court decided to take up earlier this month.

In the case, Oil States Energy Services is challenging the constitutionality of inter partes reviews, claiming the agency's reviews deprive owners of the right to a jury trial to defend their patents.

Coons’s bill would “harmonize” the USPTO’s standards with those used in federal court patent litigation.

The Innovation Alliance, which wants to maintain a strong patent system, noted their support for the legislation.

“As the result of a series of patent-weakening Supreme Court decisions, legislative changes and administrative measures over the last decade, the U.S. patent system is no longer considered the global gold standard for intellectual property rights,” the Innovation Alliance wrote in a statement.”

“The STRONGER Patents Act says ‘enough is enough’ and ensures that patent rights are protected as a fundamental underpinning of our innovation economy.” 

Conservative groups, including the American Conservative Union and Conservatives for Property Rights, also praised the bill.

The Medical Device Manufacturers Association said it would stop “frivolous patent lawsuits while leveling the playing field for inventors.”