Saturday, 8 September 2007
Just a few hours ago, the House of Representatives passed the Patent Reform Act (HR 1908) by a vote of 225-175. The legislation, discussed in previous posts (19 July, 17 May, 19 April), was proposed by Democratic Congressman, Howard Berman, in April this year.
One of the major reforms will be the change from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system (harmonising US patent law with the rest of the world), as well as mechanisms for more efficient validity challenges and post-grant review.
In particular, the reforms are seen as part of a general response in US patent law (and in the US Supreme Court) to concerns regarding the expansion of patents and a subsequent decline in patent quality. One aspect of HR 1908 attracting much discussion is the codification of the assessment of damages, limiting the court's discretion in making an award.
During the Hearing, HR 1908 was criticised as sector-specific, pushed by the software and computing industries but viewed more critically by the pharmaceutical sector. But more significantly, the White House opposes the damages aspect of HR 1908, suggesting a possible veto in the offing by the President.
But as Thomas Jefferson once said, "Every generation needs a new revolution."