MAPP (Manufacturing Alliance on Patent Policy) and the NSBA (National Small Business Association) have contacted Capitol Hill leaders to voice their opposition to the patent "reform" legislation now under consideration.
Key components of both the House and Senate bills are:
- limits on damages for infringers based on apportionment and willfulness
- change from "first to invent" to "first to file" system
- creation of new post-grant procedures
- expanded reexamination
- changes to venue regulations
MAPP is supported by U.S. Representatives Mike Michaud (D-ME) and Don Manzullo (R-IL), members of the House Manufacturing Caucus. In written testimony to the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, they said "significant improvements were needed to both the damages and post grant review provisions of the House bill."
Case Western professor Scott Shane confirmed MAPP's concerns in a paper prepared for them: "The Likely Adverse Effects of an Apportionment-Centric System of Patent Damages". Dr. Shane's analysis predicts billions of dollars negatively impacting R&D, innovation and manufacturing jobs.
In a letter sent to President Obama shortly after his inauguration, MAPP advocated for patent reform which would not create benefits for any particular industry at the cost of others. While their communication did admit that the patent system needs fine-tuning, they recommended reforms to USPTO operations instead of legislation aimed at "the back end."
The NSBA shares MAPP's concerns with several aspects of the proposed 2009 patent "reform" legislation. The change to a "first to file" system and the expanded post-grant patent provisions are of particular concern to the coalition of small business owners who state they act as the voice of small business, independent inventors and academic researchers.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), they expressed their opposition to these two key provisions of Senate Bill 515. In the communication to the Senate leaders, NSBA's President Todd McCracken noted that it is "imperative that any effort to modernize and improve America's patent system carefully consider the effect on the nation's small businesses."
NSBA also fears that the lobbying dollars and the might of large corporations, who have vested interest in seeing the proposed patent "reform" approved, will override the concerns of its coalition members.
Divisiveness among large business interests may yet see this year's reform schemes fail in Congress. So where will that leave the floundering patent system? Reform is needed, but of what type and to whose benefit remains the question. IP Advocate will continue to track this issue and provide its readers with current information as the reform movement progresses.