Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 21, 2014, 11:45am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - House Judiciary Chairman and Innovation Act sponsor Bob Goodlatte says patent legislation will be signed into law “in the near future.”

Goodlatte, R-Va., made the remarks during the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Intellectual Property Summit this week.


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“As we continue our journey into the digital age, we must be sure to continue to reward our innovators with the exclusive rights to their works for limited periods of time. This incentive is still necessary to maintain America’s position as the world leader in innovation,” he told attendees.


“Because the United States has been the pioneer for intellectual property protections, it is no surprise that our IP industries are so successful, and are so crucial to our national economy. These industries have created millions of high-skilled, high-paying U.S. jobs and have contributed billions to our economy.


“However, the proliferation of IP theft in America is growing and is threatening to undermine the very protections our founding fathers envisioned.”


Goodlatte said provisions of the America Invents Act have made it easier to challenge frivolous patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


The AIA, signed into law in 2011 and its central provisions put into effect in March 2013, switched the U.S. patent system from a “first to invent” to a “first inventor to file” system, eliminated interference proceedings and developed post-grant opposition.


“The Innovation Act that I authored addressed the growing problem of frivolous patent troll litigation,” he said.


The legislation required:


- Plaintiffs to disclose who the owner of a patent is before litigation, so that it is clear who the real parties behind the litigation are;


- Plaintiffs to actually explain why they are suing a company in their court pleadings;


- Courts to make decisions about whether a patent is valid or invalid early in the litigation process so that patent trolls cannot drag patent cases on for years based on invalid claims.  This prevents invalid patents from being used to extort money from retailers and end users;


- The U.S. Judicial Conference to make rules to reduce the costs of discovery in patent litigation so that patent trolls cannot use the high costs of discovery to extort money from small businesses and entrepreneurs; and


- The PTO to provide educational resources for those facing abusive patent litigation claims.


The legislation also required judges to award attorneys’ fees to the victims of the frivolous lawsuit.


Last year, the U.S. House overwhelmingly approved Goodlatte’s bill. But efforts to pass the patent reform came to a halt in the U.S. Senate in the spring.


Then, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy removed his bill, the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act, from the judiciary committee’s calendar in May.


Leahy, a Democrat, blamed Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., for its failure. The outgoing Senate Majority Leader reportedly has strong ties to trial lawyers, and they were concerned about the fee-shifting provision of the bill that would require the loser to pay the winner’s legal fees.


“Despite passing the House last December by a bipartisan vote of 325-91, the Innovation Act ran into the Washington D.C. version of quicksand known as the Senate,” Goodlatte said, adding that the results of the midterm election bodes well for patent reform.


“Fortunately, voters earlier this month made it clear that they are more interested in results than the latest filibuster,” he said.


Goodlatte said he looks forward to working with incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to see that legislation will be enacted.


“As the 113th Congress draws to a close and we start looking to the 114th Congress, I can assure you that the strong work we have started will continue,” he said.


“The (House Judiciary) Committee will be focused on protecting American innovation and creativity in an effort to create jobs and restore economic prosperity to America.”


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