House Passes Patent Litigation Reform

December 11, 2013

pic-patent-drawingThe U.S. House of Representatives has passed the NSBA-opposed Innovation Act (H.R. 3309). The December 5 vote was 325-91, a disturbingly high margin for a bill that could undercut U.S. innovation and the real impact of which is not widely understood on Capitol Hill.

The Innovation Act, which addresses a number of issues ranging from heightened pleading requirements and fee shifting to discovery reform and increased transparency of patent ownership, has been a very controversial measure since its inception. This controversy is primarily due to the inclusion of several provisions that would reform our constitutionally-based patent system and the patent litigation process, and because it has moved through the House of Representatives so quickly (and so soon after the passage of the NSBA-opposed America Invents Act (AIA)).

Earlier this year, NSBA signed on to a letter urging Members of Congress to exercise extreme caution in proceeding with any legislation that has the potential to further weaken our patent system and requesting targeted hearings on the relevant issues with testimony from a number of key stakeholders including small businesses. Unfortunately, the House Judiciary Committee held only one hearing, at which no small businesses or individual inventors testified.

While supportive of reasonable efforts and reforms to ensure that small businesses are not unnecessarily burdened by undue or unwarranted patent infringement actions, NSBA believes that any legislation that is designed to reform our patent system or the patent litigation process must adequately consider and address the concerns of the small-business community, including the potential negative impact that this legislation may have on individual inventors, technology startups and small innovative companies. Accordingly, given the need for further revisions and the speed at which this legislation has moved through the House of Representatives, NSBA opposed the bill as currently written. With attention now turning to the Senate, NSBA urges Senators to carefully consider the potential impact of such legislation on America’s individual inventors and small business community.

Please click here to view NSBA’s most recent letter in opposition to the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309).