July 6, 2011

Patent Reform Bill Remains Stalled in Senate

By Brianna C. Fields

The Senate has been unable to quickly vote on the House-passed version of Patent Reform, and it now looks increasingly likely that votes will have to be allowed on a couple of controversial amendments to the bill which could cause further problems.

One of the House adopted amendments would recalculate the filing period for patent term extension applications for drug products and other patents covered by the Hatch-Waxman Act. This has raised concern among certain Senators because it would essentially only benefit one biotech firm which filed its application for extension of patent protection on day late.

The other amendment which has already proven to be an obstacle is the issue of patent office funding. While the House version of the bill included language that directed revenue to be continued to be handled through the appropriations process, a larger group of Senators continue to push for allowing USPTO to keep all of the revenue it generates from fees.

It is expected that the House would likely accept changes to the former amendment, but would refuse any alteration to the latter. Also holding up the process is the refusal by many in both chambers to refuse to discuss any other issues until the debt ceiling debate is resolved.

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