Patent News

Jan. 29, 2015

IP Watchdog: Patent Reform to be introduced in House next week, by Gene Quinn

This post originally appeared in IP Watchdog on January 29, 2015.

Making good on a promise made shortly after the November 2014 elections, multiple sources have confirmed that House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), will soon introduce the latest round of patent reform legislation in the United States House of Representatives. The bill, which will be nearly identical to the Innovation Act, which Goodlatte introduced during the 113th Congress, is expected to be introduced on Thursday, February 5, 2015. Goodlatte will bypass the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, and the bill will proceed directly to the Committee level. A mark-up of the bill is expected as soon as several weeks after introduction. The Innovation Act passed the House during the 113th Congress by a vote of 325-91, but eventually died in the Senate.

News of an imminent introduction of patent legislation is not shocking, but what is at least somewhat surprising is that the legislation will bypass the Subcommittee on IP. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) lost his leadership position on the House Oversight Committee due to term limits the Republicans apply to leadership positions, but Issa gained the gavel on the IP Subcommittee. A prolific inventor with dozens of patents himself, Issa pledged to work to build a bipartisan bill to address abusive patent litigation practices and to provide oversight of the USPTO to help prepare the agency for the challenges ahead.

According to Politico, when Issa was tapped to be the new Chair of the IP Subcommittee Goodlatte made it abundantly clear that Issa’s Subcommittee would not have jurisdiction over anticipated copyright legislative reform. Goodlatte informed Issa that he would keep copyright legislative reform at the full Committee level. The understanding between Goodlatte and Issa was believed to be that Issa would get some latitude with respect to patent reform, an area where he is regarded as quite knowledgeable given his experience with the patent system as an inventor and businessman prior to being elected to Congress.

Things have a way of changing quickly in Washington, DC, as evidenced of the spectacular and extraordinarily quick retreat from the President’s plan to tax college savings plans. Having said that, in recent years it has been the Senate that has been a far more favorable Chamber for those opposing patent reform. Still, if these rumors are true and the House IP Subcommittee won’t have jurisdiction over either patent or copyright matters there will be many quizzical inquiries.