Patent News

May. 7, 2015

The Hill: Doubts about patent bill surface on Senate panel, by Mario Trujillo

This post originally appeared in The Hill on May 7, 2015.

A handful of Senate Judiciary Committee members on Thursday expressed lingering doubts about legislation to fight so-called patent trolls.

While a proposal unveiled last week won bipartisan support, there is unease in some pockets of both parties about moving aggressively to limit frivolous patent infringement lawsuits.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who is still in “undecided mode,” said leadership has to assure him that if the Senate reaches a deal, it does not get scrapped when merged with the House version.

“I do think it’s also going to be important that we have a clear understanding, Mr. Chairman, as we go forward, that if we reach an agreement that is very solid in the Senate, that we have some reassurance that we won’t just get rolled in the conference process,” he said, describing the House version as “unacceptable.”

While seven of the 20 members of the committee have sponsored the legislation, a hearing Wednesday helped crystallize the opposition from other lawmakers.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ahead of the hearing, announced he was signing onto a pared back patent proposal sponsored by Judiciary members Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who is not a member of the committee, is also a sponsor.