PublishedMay 21, 2014

Senator Leahy Takes Patent Reform Off The Agenda

LeahyOfficialPhotoBigWell, you’ve probably heard the news: Senator Leahy announced that patent reform is off the agenda for the Judiciary Committee this month. This is the most aggravating part of Senator Leahy’s statement:

I have said all along that we needed broad bipartisan support to get a bill through the Senate. Regrettably, competing companies on both sides of this issue refused to come to agreement on how to achieve that goal.

Because there is not sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal, I am taking the patent bill off the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda.  If the stakeholders are able to reach a more targeted agreement that focuses on the problem of patent trolls, there will be a path for passage this year and I will bring it immediately to the Committee.

That is, unless patent trolls agree to be regulated and restricted, or alternatively everyone else agrees to an empty symbolic gesture, Senator Leahy won’t consider patent reform. This is, of course, ridiculous. There are only a small handful of non-abusive companies siding with the trolls. The vast majority of American businesses support a “comprehensive deal” like the one that passed the House late last year and the bipartisan measure developed by Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Considering that the other side is perfectly happy to kill any bill that moves, they have no incentive to compromise.

And according to reports, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid actually killed the bill, based on objections from large patent owners and the trial lawyers. That alone belies the claim that Senator Leahy’s decision was based on any failure by reform proponents to be reasonable.

This is not the kind of leadership we expect in the Senate. The House of Representatives, for all its partisan bickering, managed to pass a bipartisan patent reform bill with a 325-91 vote.

Meanwhile, the Senate does nothing and patent trolls continue to siphon billions of dollars a week from American companies.

Matt Levy

Previously, Matt was patent counsel at the Computer & Communications Industry Association

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