Patent News

Mar. 19, 2015

Washington Examiner: Grassley, Leahy: Patent reform legislation needs to strike right balance, by Jessica Karmasek

This post originally appeared in Washington Examiner on March 19, 2015.

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – Federal lawmakers argued at a hearing Wednesday, held to discuss patent reform, that action must be taken to rein in so-called “patent trolls,” but agreed they must find the right balance.

“Almost everyone agrees this is a problem and a drag on our economy,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “But, there are those concerned that certain proposals could undermine the ability of legitimate patent holders to enforce their patent rights. They maintain that recent Supreme Court decisions on pleading standards, fee shifting and patent quality, as well as actions by the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, have largely taken care of issues and comprehensive legislative action is unnecessary.

“I don’t dispute that we should preserve patent rights and valid patent enforcement tools. We do need to strike the right balance.”

But Grassley said Congress should act “decisively” if it wants to alleviate the problems that are harming both small and big businesses.

“This will strengthen our patent system and benefit inventors, businesses and consumers alike,” he said at the panel hearing, “The Impact of Abusive Patent Litigation Practices on the American Economy.”

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. and the ranking member of the committee, agreed there must be some compromise.

“Many have raised concerns that, if taken too far, litigation reforms like those in the House-passed Innovation Act would harm legitimate patent holders when they enforce their rights in court. I agree we must find a balance,” he said, adding that “abusive practices by bad actors are a discredit to our strong patent system, and it is in no one’s interest that they continue.”