PublishedMarch 13, 2013

Previewing Tomorrow’s House Judiciary Hearing on Abusive Patent Litigation

Tomorrow, March 14, at 11:30AM in 2141 Rayburn, the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet is holding a hearing on “Abusive Patent Litigation: The Impact on American Innovation & Jobs, and Potential Solutions.”  It will also be webcast live at http://www.judiciary.house.gov, and we will be live-tweeting it on @PatentProgress.

As the House Judiciary’s Press Release explains, tomorrow’s hearing “will examine abusive patent litigation, particularly in the context of patent assertion entities (PAEs), commonly referred to as ‘patent trolls’.”  We are pleased to see Congress looking at the harmful effects of patent troll litigation on American innovation and competitiveness, which was the topic of our February 28 event, “How Patent Trolls Are Harming Innovation.”  The patent troll problem was also notably mentioned by President Obama in his February 14 Google Hangout.

The witness list below.  Each name links to a PDF of their written testimony:

  • Mr. John Boswell, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, SAS Institute, Inc.;
  • Mr. Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Cisco Systems, Inc.;
  • Ms. Janet Dhillon, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, J.C. Penney Company, Inc.;
  • Mr. C. Graham Gerst, Partner, Global IP Law Group, LLC;
  • Mr. Phillip Johnson, Senior Vice President and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Johnson & Johnson; and
  • Mr. Dana Rao, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Litigation, Adobe Systems, Inc.

From a quick skim of the written testimony, it appears that the panelists range in their views on the patent troll problem, and their desires for Congressional action.  Boswell, Chandler, and Dhillon are being sued by trolls and support Congress making some necessary reforms; Gerst and Johnson are not as upset about the status quo and are more cautious about Congress acting; and Rao, speaking on behalf of Adobe and also the Business Software Alliance (BSA), is somewhere in the middle, although notably supports the SHIELD Act.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) will be presiding over the hearing, and his quote from the Press Release makes it clear that he understands the extent of the patent troll problem:

“Abusive patent litigation and specifically patent trolls have a significant impact on American competitiveness, costing our economy billions of dollars each year.  Tomorrow’s hearing will allow us to examine the landmark America Invents Act and determine how best to further protect American inventions and promote innovation by discouraging frivolous patent litigation.”

Ali Sternburg


Ali Sternburg is Vice President, Information Policy at the Computer & Communications Industry Association, where she focuses on intermediary liability, copyright, and other areas of intellectual property. Ali joined CCIA during law school in 2011, and previously served as Senior Policy Counsel, Policy Counsel, and Legal Fellow. She is also an Inaugural Fellow at the Internet Law & Policy Foundry.

She received her J.D. in 2012 from American University Washington College of Law, where she was a Student Attorney in the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, President of the Intellectual Property Law Society, Senior Symposium Chair and Senior Marketing Manager for the Intellectual Property Brief, and a Dean’s Fellow at the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property.

She graduated from Harvard College in 2009 where she studied Government and Music, wrote her senior honors thesis on “Theoretical and Legal Views on U.S. Government Involvement in Musical Creativity Online,” and interned at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

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