A new bill in the US House of Representatives aims to improve protection for patent owners, making patent injunctions easier and invalidation of patents more difficult.
Introduced by Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and Rep Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the new Support Technology and Research for Our Nations Growth and Economic Resilience bill, known as the STRONGER Patents bill, claims to support smaller players and their IP over larger companies
Bill authors wrote that current patent protection in the US has waned, and argued that the lack of such protections have driven innovation away from the US, according to a blog post from the Representatives posted on The Hill.
Reps. Foster and Stivers go on to criticize the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, founded in 2011, saying that while it was intended to improve the process of challenging patents, it “routinely throws out patents that have been duly awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office using loopholes and weaker disparate standards.”
“The entire process reduces the amount of time and money inventors have to cultivate their next idea. For America to lead in life-science discoveries, software patents, and medical devices, we must ensure inventors have the level of protection afforded to Edison. Securing “injunctive relief” to make infringers stop the theft of intellectual property is now harder for patent owners. If he were inventing today, Edison would likely spend most of his time in Alexandria, defending his patents at the PTAB, rather than in his research lab creating the lightbulb,” the Reps. wrote.
The bill has received kudos from industry groups in life sciences, who state that they believe the bill will help improve innovation in the sector.
“BIO supports balanced reforms to reduce abusive patent practices – both by patent owners and against patent owners. But we also must strengthen the incentives needed to sustain our nation’s global leadership in biotechnology innovation and the creation of high-wage, high-value jobs throughout our country. With the introduction of the STRONGER Patents Act, Congress has begun the process of achieving that critical balance. I commend Representatives Stivers and Foster for their leadership in introducing legislation that will reform the inter partes review and post-grant review processes, bringing fairness and finality to these Patent Office proceedings. The bill also will enhance patent quality by ensuring that all fees paid to the Patent Office are used for their intended purposes, and will crack down on abusive patent demand letters,” biotech trade association BIO advocacy, law & public policy division president Tom DiLenge said in a press release.
Industry groups representing the tech sector have been less enthusiastic about the bill, threatening that it could reduce innovation in the US.
“Today, Congressmen Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.) introduced the STRONGER Patents Act. Contrary to its name, if enacted the bill would make our country’s position as the world’s leading innovator WEAKER. By overturning multiple, unanimous Supreme Court rulings and gutting the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s valuable Inter Partes Review (IPR) process, it would embolden abusive patent litigators,” the High Tech Inventors Alliance wrote in a press release.