Yesterday, in a strong bipartisan vote (33-5), the House Judiciary Committee approved the Innovation Act.
There’s more work to do, but this is a big victory. Nearly every major reform that’s been discussed is in the bill:
changing the rules of patent litigation to reduce patent trolls’ leverage, including reducing the cost of discovery and requiring patent owners to give more information up front
adding protections for end users sued by patent trolls
requiring clearer demand letters
While it’s disappointing that there is no provision to deal with existing bad patents, that part of the fight isn’t over yet.
The problem of patent trolls has gotten so far out of hand that every member at the hearing agreed that something needs to be done, even if there were some disagreements over exactly what to do.
In the end, the Committee showed that Democrats and Republicans can still work together. The members of the House Judiciary Committee deserve enormous credit for putting party aside in order to help the businesses that are being victimized by abusive patent litigation.
Rep. Jeffries in particular worked for days to craft a compromise on fee-shifting, and he deserves major congratulations for pulling it off. And Chairman Goodlatte’s willingness to work with the Democrats and adapt the bill in order to garner more support produced much stronger reforms than many people expected.
There will be a lot to do in the coming weeks, but this is a great start.