Washington DC
06 February 2015
Reporter: Tammy Facey

The Innovation Act is back

The Innovation Act has been re-introduced by the House of Representatives, in a move that could displease its original opponents.

House judiciary committee chairman Bob Goodlatte and other members reintroduced the unchanged act, which was rejected by the Senate last year, into Congress on 5 February.

The committee claims the act builds on reforms made in the America Invests Act in 2011 and will introduce rules to reduce the costs of discovery and give courts the opportunity access patent validity more quickly.

The House voted to pass the Innovation Act late last year, but Senate judiciary committee chairman Patrick Leahy put a hold on the bill after weeks of unproductive negotiations amid fears it “would have severe unintended consequences on legitimate patent holders who employ thousands of Americans”.

Multiple House judiciary committee members issued statements outlining their support for the reintroduction of the Innovation Act, with Goodlatte saying: “The bipartisan Innovation Act contains commonsense reforms and makes the patent litigation process more transparent.”

“This same legislation passed the House by an overwhelming margin last Congress. I look forward to working with the Senate Judiciary Committee to see this legislation sent to the president to be signed into law.”

But Graham Gerst, partner at Global IP Law Group, claimed the bill is “bad” because “a lot of the issues it seeks to address already have been, or are being, dealt with in a far more informed, careful, and effective way by the courts”.

“Second, one of the bill’s central provisions is contrary to what has been America’s legal tradition and this proposed change would dramatically hinder future innovation.”

“The act [does present] an interesting limitation that would prevent either party from obtaining discovery until after the court has issued its claim construction ruling,” added Benjamin Horton, partner at Marshall Gerstein & Borun.

“This may have the effect of significantly delaying a major component of litigation expense or encouraging judges to get through the claim construction phase of patent cases very quickly.”

“By putting off fact discovery, or by addressing the merits early, a patent troll may no longer hold hostage an operating company that faces disproportionately expensive discovery.”

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