Patent News

Oct. 13, 2015 Patent reform returns to back-burner, by Michael Rosen

This post originally appeared in on October 13, 2015.

And like that – it’s gone.

Legislative patent reform, that is, not Keyser Soze.

Only a month ago, as Congress returned from its summer recess, both the House and the Senate appeared poised to advance several patent reform measures that had stalled before the recess amid heavy fighting between different interest groups.

There seemed to be momentum toward something happening in Congress, or at least that’s what most of our distinguished experts expressed during AEI’s wide-ranging panel on patent reform in early September (video of which is available here).

But then House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) resigned his post, a chaotic (and still-unresolved) succession battle ensued, and patent reform appeared to fall off a cliff.

In parallel, the same warring interest groups continued to do battle over changes to new Patent Office proceedings like inter partes review (IPR), whether the biotech sector should be exempted from IPR, and the contours of patent litigation.

We’re “still negotiating IPR, still considering whether or not anybody needs a carveout, still considering what the cost is if there is a carveout,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) told Politico last week. Grassley also believes it’s premature to bring the measure to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Until we get a final product,” he said, “there’s not much sense in talking to him.”

As the fight rages between different groups, another senator offered a less martial, though more colorful, metaphor.

“It’s a difficult coalition because you’ve got to keep all the bullfrogs in the wheelbarrow. If you change something, one of them jumps out in order to get another one in,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a longtime reform advocate, told Politico. “I’d love to see it move, and hopefully if we get it moved over here, then it would help the House get their act together.”