Thursday, December 5, 2013

Conyers Floor Statement in Support of Conyers-Watt Substitute Amendment

(WASHINGTON) – This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering H.R. 3309, the “Innovation Act.” On the House Floor, Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) delivered the following statement in support of the substitute amendment to H.R. 3309 that he offered jointly with Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Melvin L. Watt (D-N.C.):

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“On behalf of Representative Watt and myself, I am offering a substitute amendment that gives Members an opportunity to vote for language that will actually address the identifiable abuses in the patent system,” said Conyers.

“These abuses include the inability to identify the real party in interest, and filing abusive lawsuits against end users instead of manufacturers of products. These issues are addressed in a measured and balanced way in the Conyers-Watt amendment. Unlike the reported bill – which makes one-sided changes in fee shifting, discovery, and pleading requirements in all patent cases, not just cases involving so-called ‘trolls’ – my amendment directly responds to the real problems without undermining the patent or legal system as a whole. Our amendment builds in large part on a patent reform bill Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy introduced last month and which President Obama and other stakeholders strongly support.

“The amendment does the following:

Ø  It promotes transparency of patent ownership by using a well-established standard utilized by many federal courts to require plaintiffs to disclose entities with an interest in the patent.
Ø  It protects customers who are targeted in infringement suits by providing an option to stay the case against them while the manufacturer litigates the alleged infringement.
Ø  It directs the U.S. Patent and Trade Office to develop educational resources for small businesses that are targeted in patent suits.
Ø  It helps innovators by ensuring that applicants do not abuse the patent system by simply filing variations on their patents to extend the length of the patent term.
Ø  And, it requires a study of the widespread use of deceptive demand letters, so that we can better understand how to effectively respond to this abusive practice.

“Our amendment addresses the major concerns expressed by key stakeholders about abusive patent litigation. Many Members – on both sides of the aisle – and a broad range of patent stakeholders are strongly opposed to H.R. 3309 because of its many deficiencies and potential unintended consequences. Rather than promoting innovation and job growth, we fear that the underlying bill will have the opposite effect.

“Our amendment corrects many of the bill’s deficiencies in a responsive and measured approach without unbalancing the entire patent system. For these reasons, I strongly urge all my colleagues to support this amendment.”
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