May 22, 2014

Patent Reform Legislation Pulled from Agenda

By Christy Gullion

Consideration of comprehensive patent legislation appears to be off the agenda for the year after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy (D-VT) pulled it from his committee’s agenda on Wednesday. He cited frustration with unproductive negotiations as the reason for the turnaround. The measure had been slated for consideration by the committee today but less than 24 hours before the scheduled markup, Leahy announced that members again had failed to reach a compromise and that the bill would be put on hold indefinitely.

One of the biggest areas of disagreement was over fee shifting, the idea of making the losing party in patent lawsuits pay the winner’s legal fees. Earlier this month, Senate negotiators began to coalesce around compromise language from Senators Cornyn (R-TX) and Schumer (D-NY) that included milder litigation reforms. The research university community, along with other major patent holders, successfully advocated against the measure arguing that the bill would cause more problems for universities than it would solve.

It is uncertain if patent reform legislation will return to the congressional agenda this year.

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