Showing posts with label patent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label patent. Show all posts

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ranking Member Conyers Statement at Patent Markup

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a full committee Markup of H.R. 3309, the “Innovation Act.” During his opening remarks, Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“There are few economic issues our Committee or this Congress will face that are more important than our patent law system. Intellectual property is responsible for nearly half of our Nation’s gross domestic product and one third of all jobs in the U.S. economy.  Our patent system, while not perfect, is the envy of the world. As I have stated before, I believe the issues of non-practicing entities or so-called patent ‘trolls,’ present some unique problems that are worthy of congressional attention. There is a disconnect when shell corporations -- with little or no assets -- can systematically abuse the patent system. If we don’t know who these shell companies are, and – if they are able to unfairly threaten hundreds, if not thousands, of unsuspecting retailers –  we have a problem that requires a legislative solution. Unfortunately, the legislation before us overreacts to these issues and it would severely undermine the role of our federal judiciary in general and innovation in particular. 

“I have been working my entire career to help foster an independent judiciary that can resolve disputes between parties on a fair and dispassionate basis based on an evenhanded set of rules. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what is happening now. The federal circuit and the Supreme Court are in the midst of altering the rules for patent fee shifting, discovery, and pleadings, among other things. There is little doubt that the federal judiciary – as evidenced by its exceedingly deliberative rulemaking process – is in a far better position than 535 Members of Congress to set the proper rules for their own court rooms on these matters.

“Furthermore, by unbalancing the patent system we send a signal to inventors –  the very people doing the research and developing the cures that we benefit from every day – that their inventions are not worthy of full legal protection. This means that the next cure for cancer or technological break though may be stymied and never come, or may be developed abroad rather than in the U.S.

“And, by limiting the Committee to a single legislative hearing, by skipping subcommittee and moving to markup prematurely, we make it all the more difficult for Members and stakeholders to provide meaningful input into the process.

“There is a broad range of patent experts and stakeholders who agree with me, and have expressed significant concern if not outright opposition to the bill before us, including the:

                      Federal Judicial Conference,
                      the American Bar Association,
                      the American Intellectual Property Law Association,
                      the Patent Officers Professional Association,
                      the American Association of Universities,
                      the Biotechnology Industry Association,
                      the Twenty-First Century Patent Coalition,
                      the Innovation Alliance,
                      the American Association for Justice,
                      the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association,
                      the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
                      the National Association of Patent Practitioners, and
                      the National Bankruptcy Conference.

“Because I feel so strongly that Congress must get this issue right, Ranking Subcommittee Member Watt and I will offer a substitute that responds to the real and identifiable problems of patent abuse without upsetting the entire patent law system. Our substitute will also take the single most viable step we can take towards improving patent quality – ending fee diversion so that poor quality patents are not issued to begin with. 

“I am willing to roll up my sleeves and work with all of the Members of this Committee in developing a fair, reasonable and measured approach to patent reform. This Committee has a long history of cooperation between the Chair and Ranking Member on intellectual property matters.  And while in my judgment that cooperation has been lacking thus far, I am hopeful we can work together to improve the legislation so that it can pass the House and Senate and be signed into law.”

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Conyers & Watt: Goodlatte’s Manager’s Amendment Will Harm the Patent System

House Judiciary Ranking Members Support Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy’s Nuanced Approach to Addressing Patent Abuse

(WASHINGTON) – Today, U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced the Markup of H.R. 3309, the “Innovation Act,” this Wednesday, November 20th. In announcing the Markup, Chairman Goodlatte released a Manager’s Amendment making changes to H.R. 3309. In addition, this afternoon Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the “Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013” to curb patent abuse, without infringing the independence of the federal judiciary and harming small inventors. In response to these developments, U.S. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Melvin L. Watt (D-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“While Chairman Goodlatte’s Manager’s Amendment made some improvements to H.R. 3309, the ‘Innovation Act,’ as currently drafted we continue to oppose this legislation that would make sweeping and unnecessary changes to patent litigation and encroach on the independence of the federal judiciary.  While we support measured and balanced changes to respond to the most egregious practices involving patents, we do not believe that this legislation should become a vehicle to pass far ranging changes to the litigation system, such as limits on pleadings and discovery, and intrusive mandates on the court system.  At the same time, we applaud Chairman Leahy and Senator Lee for their introduction of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act which based on our initial review appears to offer a more balanced and targeted approach to the abusive tactics of some patent litigants.”
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ranking Member Conyers Opening Statement at Full Committee Patent Reform Hearing

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a full committee hearing on, “H.R. 3309: Improving the Patent System to Promote American Innovation and Competitiveness.” This hearing comes on the heels of the introduction of H.R. 3349, the “Innovation Protection Act,” by Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Congressman Melvin L. Watt (D-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, and Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) This legislation ends future diversion of Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) fees, allowing the PTO to employ all of the user fees it receives. During his opening remarks, Rep. Conyers delivered the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“There are few economic issues our Committee or this Congress will face that are more important than whether and how to reform our patent laws.  Intellectual property – principally patents – are responsible for nearly one third of all jobs in the U.S. economy.  Our patent system, while not perfect, is the envy of the world and perhaps the most significant driver of growth in our economy. 

“As we consider patent legislation, I would like to offer three points for consideration.  First, I believe the issues of non- practicing entities or so-called patent ‘trolls’ present some unique problems that are worthy of congressional attention.  There is a disconnect when shell corporations -- with little or no assets -- can threaten thousands of small end users with ill-conceived patent litigation over ordinary business practices.  If we don’t know who these shell companies are; if the shell companies have no operating businesses or assets; and if they are given free license to engage in endless and costly discovery, we have a problem that requires legislation.

“But at the same time, we need to be careful in addressing these problems.  Our first rule should be to make sure we do no harm to our patent system or take any actions which unintentionally discourage innovation or increase litigation.  As the former Director of the Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos reminds us, ‘we are not just tinkering with any system here; we are reworking the greatest innovation engine the world has ever known, almost instantly after it has been significantly overhauled.  If there were ever a case where caution is called for, this is it.’

“In this regard, I don’t see any reason we should be considering amending the fee shifting statute when the Supreme Court has just agreed to take up this very issue.  Similarly, I see no rush to expand the use of ‘business method patents’ when the PTO and the courts are just now beginning to review cases brought under the law we just passed.

“Second, any changes we make must be carefully balanced and consistent with our principles and constitutional imperatives.   For 80 years we have asked our federal judges – the experts on litigation – to develop rules for their own court rooms.  That system has worked well and I see no reason to abrogate the principle of separation of powers now.

“And if we are going to consider crafting new rules on discovery, stays, and joinder, we should insist that the rules work the same for all parties – plaintiffs and defendants. Nor should we be crafting a series of special carve outs from the legislation for the pharmaceutical industry.  The last thing we need to do is create two systems of patent law – one for pharmaceuticals and one for everybody else.

“Third, we cannot lose sight of the single most important problem facing our patent system today – the continuing diversion of patent fees.   The most effective step we can take in responding to abusive patent litigation is making sure poor quality patents are not issued to begin with.  To do that we need to give our examiners the resources they need to review and analyze the hundreds of thousands of complex and interrelated patent applications they receive every year.   That is why yesterday, I along with Representatives Watt, Issa and Collins, introduced bipartisan legislation – the Innovation Protection Act – which does exactly that on a permanent, statutory basis.  This will apply regardless of the sequester or any future shut downs. 

“I stand ready, able and willing to work with members on both sides of aisle in tackling these problems.  But I would urge the Chairman to move cautiously, carefully and deliberately.”
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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Detroit to get first U.S. patent satellite office

Detroit to get first U.S. patent satellite office

The first satellite office of the United States Patent and Trademark Office is set to open in Detroit in early spring 2011, opening up jobs for 100 patent examiners plus support staff.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke made the announcement today in a conference call. He was joined by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and David Kappos, Commerce’s undersecretary for intellectual property and director of the patent office.
The office will monitor the results of the Detroit office in preparation for more regional offices around the country.
“Perhaps two more will open within a year after Detroit,” Locke said.
The decision on the location has not been made, Kappos said. The Patent Office is planning to sign an occupancy agreement this month, with a lease to follow in February. Job offers would start going out soon after that in preparation for an early spring or possibly late winter opening, he said.
The new office and the hiring of 100 examiners will give patent applicants more time to meet for examiner interviews and in turn speed up the patent approval process.
The Patent Office currently has about 710,000 patent applications in its backlog, Kappos said. That’s down from 750,000 at the beginning of the year, amid an increased number of applications, but that’s still not close to being good enough, Locke said.
The goal is to reduce average patent waiting times from three years to one.
Calling the three-year wait time “unacceptable,” Locke compared it to asking a bank for a loan to expand a factory that the applicant won’t have the title to for another three years.
Locke first mentioned the possibility of Detroit getting a patent office in October during a visit to the Detroit Regional Chamber.
The move to set up regional patent offices is also intended to improve recruitment and retention of the patent examiners, who decide which applications get approved. Recruitment is challenging because examiners must possess advanced technical knowledge, a quality that makes them employable elsewhere.
Setting up regional offices will allow the main patent office to no longer ask qualified candidates to move to the Washington, D.C., area.
It also would give the office access to pockets of specialized skilled workers. That’s where Detroit comes in. The region’s abundance of advanced — and unemployed — engineers makes it a perfect fit for the pilot satellite office, Locke, Kappos and Granholm all said.
The Department of Commerce also chose Michigan to set up its first CommerceConnect office. The one-stop access point to all of the department's services for businesses opened in October 2009, and more offices are planned in other regions of the country.
The Pontiac office was a factor in choosing the Detroit area, as was low building costs, access to local research universities and a high number of patent applications coming out of Michigan.
“This city fulfills a number of critical criteria,” Kappos said.
Granholm said the University of Michigan “pushed to have this office come here.”
The presence of schools such as UM and Wayne State University brings diversity to the local technology, said James Stevens, president of the Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association and managing shareholder at Reising Ethington P.C. in Troy.
“Any area has a flavor to its technology,” Stevens said.
He said the hiring of 100 examiners is a serious number. Unlike in past downturns when automotive engineers tended to be untouched, the recent recession has brought layoffs to their doorsteps, as well, he said.
“A lot of them are still in town looking for work,” Stevens said.

Bill signing revives plans for Detroit patent office

Bill signing revives plans for Detroit patent office

Congress passed the "America Invents Act." President Obama signed it into law today. The Act could lead to a satellite patent office in Detroit.
Congress passed the "America Invents Act." President Obama signed it into law today. The Act could lead to a satellite patent office in Detroit.
user wallyg / Flickr
Patent legislation that had a big push from Michigan’s research universities and the Detroit automakers has been signed into law.
The “America Invents Act” promises to speed up the patent process, and help reduce a backlog of some 700,000 patent applications in Washington D.C.
Part of that includes opening a satellite patent office in Detroit and two other locations.  
"It really puts the patent office in one of the invention centers of the nation, which is the Detroit area," said Steve Forrest, vice president for research at the University of Michigan.
Research schools like U of M say the changes will help them get ideas from academia to the marketplace more quickly.
"The delays have caused some uncertainty in the system. And uncertainty is bad for us because what we’re looking for is either existing companies or new start-ups to open new lines of business or entirely new businesses – so they’re looking for funding, for example, and management," said Rick Brandon, a patent attorney with the University of Michigan.
Brandon says he expects the new law will mean quicker turnaround on patent decisions so people know whether to put time, money and effort into developing new products.
Some independent inventors have complained that the changes favor large institutions and could put them at a disadvantage.
To hear an earlier story about the U.S. Patent Office's plans (later postponed) to open a Detroit patent office, click here.
DESIGNATION.—The satellite office of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to be located in Detroit, Michigan, shall be known and designated as the ‘‘Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office’’.
The Detroit Free Press reports that U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) added the provision to name a future Detroit patent office after McCoy:
Elijah J. McCoy [was] an African-American inventor born in Canada and raised in Ypsilanti. After studying as an engineer in Scotland, McCoy, a son of former slaves, got a job as a fireman for the Michigan Central Railroad and patented several inventions, including a cup that continuously fed oil to bearings in steam engines.
Some claim his process was deemed “the real McCoy,” compared to imitators, though there are other claimants to originating the phrase. By McCoy’s death in 1929, he had secured more than 50 patents.
The legislation calls on the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to open the satellite offices within three years "subject to available resources."
The Detroit Free Press reports the satellite office would be paid for by patent fees.
CNET reports on the big changes to the patent process as a result the America Invents Act:
Among the major changes in the legislation is turning the U.S. patent system into a first-to-file patent system as opposed to a first-to-invent system. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's current use of the first-to-invent system awards a patent based on the conception of the invention, not necessarily when it's filed. The first-to-file system, as the name suggests, awards a patent to the first person who files for it.

General Debate Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. in Opposition to H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act


General Debate Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. in Opposition to H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act
Our Nation’s patent system plays a critical role in the economic health of the United States and global leadership in innovative technology development.
But our patent system has long been in need of comprehensive reform.
Unfortunately, H.R. 1249 – or the misnamed America Invents Act – fails to meet this critical goal for several reasons.
Rep. John Conyers, Jr.
To begin with, the bill essentially will give large banks a special, new bailout at the expense of small inventors and the American taxpayer, and even worse, would do so on a retroactive basis.
The bill’s retroactive impact would constitute a an unconstitutional taking of property according to several highly respected constitutional law experts, including Professors Richard Epstein and Jonathan Massey.
As a result, the federal government would be forced to pay just compensation to the patent holders, which put taxpayers at risk of having to fund billions of dollars in payments.
Another concern is that the legislation undermines the false patent marking statute by retroactively changing the law applicable to pending enforcement actions.
The false marking statute prohibits manufacturers from falsely claiming that a product is or remains patent-protected beyond a 20-year term.
Public Citizen has explained that this provision “would completely remove the incentive to stop intentional false labeling of products as patented.”
Finally, the bill will give patent owners an opportunity to provide corrected or new information to the Patent and Trademark Office that was not previously presented or not accurately presented during the application process.
Currently, patents are unenforceable and invalid if they are fraudulently obtained.
So this new provision will be the equivalent to a “get out of jail free” card for firms that have not been truthful in seeking patent protection.
Not surprisingly, groups like the Generic Pharmaceutical Association recognize the problems this provision presents.
The Association states that the bill “could reward patent holders that knowingly falsify information in their original patent application with the USPTO or intentionally omit material information.”
Finally, H.R. 1249 would — for the first time in more than 220 years — convert the United States from a “first-to-invent” patent system into a European-style “first-to-file” patent system.
As a result, the bill would permit the Patent and Trademark Office to award a patent to the first person who can win a race to the patent office regardless of who is the actual inventor.
This is patently unfair to inventors.
I have supported similar clauses in past bills, but those measures included a grace period before conversion to a first-to-file patent system.  This bill contains no such grace period.
I am also very concerned that the move to first-to-file will favor multinational corporations, which are typically better staffed and funded to file applications.
And, the “first-to-file system” could force U.S. inventors to prematurely disclose their inventions, thus providing Chinese firms and other foreign entities opportunities to unlawfully exploit U.S. inventions overseas where intellectual property enforcement is lax.
It is for these and many other reasons that the bill is opposed by such a broad spectrum of groups, including the American Bar Association, the Patent Office Professional Organization, Innovation Alliance, Public Citizen, Eagle Forum, and others.
Without question, H.R. 1249 will benefit large multinationals at the expense of independent inventors and small businesses.
This bill will harm jobs, harm innovation, and harm our Nation.
Accordingly, I strongly urge my colleagues to vote no.



News out of Washington is that the Patent Reform Act is off again.  The main issue of debate appears to be the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office funding provisions in H.R. 1249, “The America Invents Act.”
Section 22 of the Judiciary Committee reported bill allows the USPTO to retain all user fees to use for operations, preventing the fees from being redirected to other non-USPTO purposes.  The news came after a gaggle of modifications were submitted for vote.  See 86 pages of proposed HR 1249 Amendments here!
H.R. 1249, would move the U.S. to a “first-to-file” patent system similar to most of the rest of the developed world.  In contrast, the U.S. system relies on a determination of who invented first.  The bill creates a sort of “first-inventor-to-file” process in which priority will be given to patents that are filed first. However, it also creates a new “derivation” process that will be used to ensure that the first person to file for a patent is also the first inventor.
COPY WRONG: GOP FIGHT DELAYS PATENT BILL — The House Rules Committee postponed a planned Tuesday afternoon markup of legislation that would rewrite patent law because of an unresolved dispute over whether to give the Patent and Trademark Office full control over the money that it raises through fees or continue to require an annual congressional appropriation for its budget. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office says he’s confident the bill will still be up this week, as planned. But it’s a serious enough disagreement that it will require either a “fix” or a change of heart by some of the opponents. Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) criticized Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for allowing the floor vote to be postponed during a closed-door session on Monday night, according to Republican sources who spoke to POLITICO’s John Bresnahan. Boehner said “he didn’t agree with how they dealt with fees or funding mechanism,” one of the sources added.
Proponents say PTO should be able to keep all of the funds it raises through fees — rather than worry about appropriators diverting a portion of its income for other programs — in order to address a backlog of pending requests. Opponents worry that taking PTO out of the annual appropriations process will give PTO too much autonomy and too little oversight. The bill would require the director of the office to submit an annual report to the appropriations committees in the House and Senate detailing PTO’s financial plans. Still, it’s a fight that pits authorizers (who would gain authority) against appropriators (who would lose it). Put Boehner in the appropriators’ camp on this one.
If you’re cynical (and I’m not saying I am) then you might be inclined to think that “patent reform” will go on and on as long as campaign contributions keep flowing in.

Opposition of H.R. 1249 Special Interests Patent Bill Benefiting Foreign Multinationals over U.S. Inventors

Opposition of H.R. 1249 Special Interests Patent Bill Benefiting Foreign Multinationals over U.S. Inventors

Opposition of H.R. 1249 Special Interests Patent Bill Benefiting Foreign Multinationals over U.S. Inventors