Senators express concern over Patent Reform Act of 2007June 12, 2007

In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which held hearings on the Patent Reform Act of 2007 last week), several Republican members of the committee expressed reservations about the current version of the bill. The contingent, made up of Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), noted the level of disagreement among the various groups advocating for (or against) reform, and the fact that the bill is currently set for markup this Thursday, June 14, in their letter requesting additional time to propose alternative language and hold more hearings.

The issues about which the Senators expressed their unease include damages apportionment, expansive post-grant opposition proceedings, and substantive rulemaking authority for the USPTO. They also note that while the Act proposes broad changes to patent law, it does not specifically address the issue of patent quality, which is the underlying cause of many of the "symptoms" the Act is attempting to treat. The group suggests further hearings as well as the opportunity for members of the committee to suggest alternative language for many of the provisions in the bill before markup.

It will be interesting to see whether those on the committee who are pushing for reform (including Chairman Leahy and Senator Hatch) are receptive to the request for additional hearings and a more careful review of the legislation before the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 1908 and S. 1145) leaves committee.

Thanks to the Patent Prospector for the pointer.

Update (6/14): According to reports, Senator Leahy and Representative Berman, two of the bill's sponsors, apparently aren't very receptive to this request.

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