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Roundup of This Week’s Patent News: April 11 Edition

Good morning!  Progress was made on patent reform this week, but not enough to get a vote before the Senate went on recess for two weeks.

A Senate Judiciary Executive Business Meeting scheduled for Tuesday was postponed, as was a potential markup for yesterday, although a “tentative deal” was announced Wednesday.  Chairman Leahy put out a statement Wednesday night saying that although members of the Senate Judiciary Committee “have made enormous progress” and they “now have a broad bipartisan agreement in principle,” patent reform would be delayed until after recess.  Chairman Leahy “will circulate a manager’s package the day we return from recess, and the Judiciary Committee will consider that legislation the first week we are back.”

In other news, at CCIA’s 2014 Washington Caucus on Wednesday, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill gave an update on the FTC’s 6(b) study examining PAEs, but emphasized that “Congress should not wait.  Further patent reforms are clearly warranted now.  I believe Congress should act as soon as possible.”  For more on her speech, check out Patent Progress’s retweets of the CCIA account on Wednesday.

And on Monday, the Main Street Patent Coalition put on a great event on the need for patent reform, demonstrating how many non-tech industries are being affected by patent trolls.

Did we miss something?  Questions or suggestions?  Feel free to leave a comment below, mention us on Twitter (@PatentProgress), or email us: patentprogress[AT]ccianet[DOT]org

Main Street Patent Coalition Members Advocate for Patent Reform in the Senate

This morning, the Main Street Patent Coalition held an informative discussion on patent reform.  There were speakers from associations representing home builders, realtors, franchisees and franchisors, convenience stores, credit unions, bankers, grocers, the retail industry, the gaming industry, Latino-owned businesses, and application developers.  They represent millions of Americans working in small, medium, and large businesses all across the country.  And they all want patent reform.

Several priorities that were raised repeatedly were (1) demand letter reform, (2) litigation reforms, such as a customer stay provision, and (3) patent quality.  And all of the speakers demonstrated how patent trolls’ extortionist behaviors directly harm jobs, economic growth, and innovation in their industries.

Patents being asserted against participants included patents on drop-down menus on websites, search alert functions, valuation tools, QR codes, ATMs, and other common tools.  Some of their members had even received demand letters asserting patents that had been invalidated.

One important point that was made was that nothing in the Senate’s bill will affect good-quality patents that are held by stakeholders like universities, pharmaceutical companies, and manufacturers.

Tim Sparapani of the App Developers Alliance summed it up well:  Congress’s goal for passing patent reform legislation should be that when the ink is dry, they have done enough to change the patent troll business model.

Roundup of This Week’s Patent News: April 4 Edition

We're back with news! Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting, at which Senator Leahy's Patent Transparency and Improvement Act was discussed.  Senator Leahy postponed consideration of his bill to Tuesday, April 8, and released a statement about the plan for moving patent reform legislation in the Senate, as I wrote yesterday.  It is possible that there will be a markup or even a vote next week, but it's not clear yet, as "negotiations are in full swing."  For additional background information, see Matt Levy's op-ed in the Hill from Wednesday getting into some specifics about patent reform in the Senate. In other news, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Alice v. CLS Bank on Monday.  CCIA had filed an amicus brief in support of CLS Bank.  Ars Technica has a good summary of the argument.  The New York Times editorial board came out on Sunday a great editorial in support of CLS Bank, titled "Abstract Ideas Don’t Deserve Patents."  Monday also brought the latest Apple-Samsung litigation, and CCIA's Matt Schruers wrote about this episode in the smartphone patent wars and the innovation issues at stake on the Disruptive Competition Project. There's also a new Main Street Patent Coalition ad on patent reform, which demonstrates how patent trolls affect non-tech small businesses, and provides another voice joining the chorus that it's time to #fixpatents. Did we miss something?  Questions or suggestions?  Feel free to leave a comment below, mention us on Twitter (@PatentProgress), or email us: patentprogress[AT]ccianet[DOT]org

Statement from Chairman Leahy on Patent Reform in the Senate

We wanted to share this comprehensive statement from today from Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, about the plan for moving patent reform legislation in the Senate.  He concludes:

I thank the members of this Committee for joining me in this work. This is an opportunity for us to come together to pass meaningful legislation that will help American businesses, innovators, and consumers while preserving what makes our patent system great. I hope we will come together on an agreement in the next day. Then we can post our amendment on the Committee website so all will have time to review it before we meet again to vote on Tuesday.
We look forward to Tuesday, and to the Senate joining the House in passing patent reform legislation.

Roundup of This Week's Patent News: February 28 Edition

This has been quite a busy week for patents!

First of all, a few Supreme Court updates:  On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard two oral arguments on patent issues, Octane and Highmark.  Yesterday, CCIA filed an amicus brief in another Supreme Court case, Alice v. CLS Bank.

Next up, some action in the Senate:  Yesterday, Senators McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rockefeller (D-W.V.) introduced the Transparency in Assertion of Patents Act to help fix the demand letter problem, which joins the eleven other bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate.  And on Monday, 42 state Attorneys General sent a letter to the Senate urging patent reform.

Also, on Tuesday, Patent Progress released a video telling the stories of two entrepreneurs in Illinois whose small businesses have been harmed by patent trolls.  It really shows how much we need patent reform.  Conveniently, there’s a new way to tell your Senator that you want reform.  This week, EFF, CCIA, Engine Advocacy, and the App Developers Alliance launched a petition on Trolling Effects for inventors, entrepreneurs, investors, and concerned citizens to tell the Senate they want patent reform.  Sign it!

Did we miss something?  Questions or suggestions?  Feel free to leave a comment below, mention us on Twitter (@PatentProgress), or email us: patentprogress[AT]ccianet[DOT]org

CCIA Files Amicus Brief in CLS Bank, Urging Supreme Court to Adopt a New Test on Patent-Eligibility of Software

Today, CCIA filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.  CLS Bank is one of six patent cases this term, including two that were heard yesterday.  For more background information on the case and policy issues presented, see this in-depth article from today by The Washington Post’s Tim Lee.

CCIA’s brief proposed a test for patent-eligibility of software:

Is the software portion of the claim restricted to specific hardware, i.e., a particular type or architecture of computer hardware?

If so, the claim is patentable subject matter.

If not, treat the software portion of the claim as prior art and examine the remaining claim to determine if what is left is patentable subject matter.

Two students from the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School, Michael Chen and Rachel Yu, assisted in drafting this brief, supervised by Professor Phil Malone.

42 State AGs Tell The Senate They Support Patent Reform

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of 42 state Attorneys General sent a letter to the leadership on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation supporting Congressional efforts to pass patent reform legislation.

The AGs explain the harms of the abuse of the patent system by trolls on our economy and on small businesses, including not just tech startups but also ‘main street’ businesses, like banks, hospitals, restaurants and hotels.  They also explain that they have launched investigations and enforcement actions, including on notorious trolls that hold patents on things like scanners and WiFi, based on their authority to protect businesses from unfair and deceptive acts.  (We’ve covered some of the state AG suits, such as Vermont, Minnesota, and Nebraska suing MPHJ.)

In addition to supporting patent reform (both the pending Senate legislation and the Innovation Act that the House passed), the AGs specifically addressed some concerns and requests regarding state enforcement authority, jurisdiction over bad-faith demand letters, transparency for demand letters, and patent litigation reform.

We are pleased that there continues to be growing support for patent reform, and look forward to the Senate acting.

Roundup of This Week's Patent News: February 21 Edition

Finally, some patent news!  Yesterday, the White House announced new initiatives to improve patent quality, and reported on the progress it’s been making on ongoing efforts.  The White House also hosted an event yesterday to discuss the executive actions, which emphasized innovation over litigation.  At the event, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker echoed a point we’ve made a few times recently ([1], [2]), which is that it’s time for the Senate to act on patent reform: “The House has already passed the Innovation Act. We need the Senate to act too.”  We agree, Secretary Pritzker!

Earlier in the week, Matt Levy dug deeper into the New York Times report that a U.S. patent was awarded to a scientist whose research had been discredited as fraudulent years ago, and explained how it demonstrates the need for meaningful patent reform.

Did we miss something?  Questions or suggestions?  Feel free to leave a comment below, mention us on Twitter (@PatentProgress), or email us: patentprogress[AT]ccianet[DOT]org