Jessica Karmasek Jul. 20, 2015, 2:44pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Federal lawmakers once again have hit the brakes on a piece of House-introduced patent reform legislation.

One of the more aggressive patent reform bills, the Innovation Act, was expected to be voted on by the House last week.

However, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told lawmakers Wednesday that the vote will be delayed.

According to reports, it could be pushed back until later this month or after the August recess.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte -- also the bill’s lead author -- said in a statement that he would use the extra time to “grow the supporters list even more.”

He explained that some members still have “concerns” with the legislation.

Goodlatte, R-Va., faced a similar situation during the markup process. After delaying the markup and making various tweaks to the bill, it finally passed the judiciary committee last month.

Pharmaceutical makers, biotechnology industries, universities, venture capitalists and patent licensors have continued to rail against the legislation, reintroduced by Goodlatte in February.

They contend H.R. 9 -- as it also is known -- would dramatically weaken intellectual property rights and undermine the patent system.

On Tuesday, a day before the delay was confirmed, a bipartisan group of lawmakers held a joint press conference to highlight the broad opposition to the legislation.

Among them was Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. and a small inventor with nearly 30 U.S. patents.

“The bill attempts to ‘fix’ a few isolated abuses of the patent system, but instead it sets forth a comprehensive overhaul of the existing legal framework that compromises the rights of all legitimate inventors,” he said. “If Congress recklessly weakens our patent system by passing this bill, inventors’ very livelihoods will be threatened. Inventors will stop inventing, and as the role models for young inventors quietly fade into history, fewer young students will pursue this rewarding career path.

“A decade from now, Congress will lament the lack of interest among our nation’s youth in subjects like science, technology, engineering and mathematics, arrogantly unaware that Congress itself destroyed it.”

Massie noted the Senate may take up the PATENT -- Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship -- Act later this month or in the fall.

Lawmakers and stakeholders have said the Senate version, which also cleared its judiciary committee last month, is more balanced.

However, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said both bills have “significant flaws.” Coons is the author of another piece of patent reform legislation, the STRONG Patents Act.

“The fact of the matter is that these two bills would be destructive to our innovation economy, and we’re working hard to ensure they won’t be treated lightly in either the House or the Senate,” Coons said.

“A strong patent system is one of the critical ways we distinguish ourselves from competing economies around the world, and we cannot afford to rush into passing a bill that would further weaken our innovation economy, which is exactly what the Innovation Act would do by making broad changes that fail to protect all patent holders.”

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at patents@legalnewsline.com.

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