Bush Administration Opposes Senate Version of Patent Reform Act

February 4, 2008. Nathaniel Wienecke, of the Department of Commerce, sent a letter [6 pages in PDF] to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC), and the other members of the SJC, announcing and explaining the Bush administration's strong opposition to S 1145 [LOC | WW], the "Patent Reform Act of 2007", in its current form.

Also, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that Jon Dudas, head of the USPTO, will hold a media availability by teleconference on Tuesday, February 5, 2008, at 10:30 AM, to discuss the Bush administration's views on S 1145.

The SJC approved S 1145 on July 19, 2007. However, the full Senate has not yet approved the bill.

The related bill in the House is HR 1908 [LOC | WW], also titled the "Patent Reform Act of 2007". The House passed that bill on September 7, 2007, by a vote of 220-175. See, Roll Call No. 863.

The release states that "The Administration strongly opposes S. 1145 in its current form, but strongly supports passage of balanced patent modernization legislation. Any changes must be carefully considered and balanced to encourage all innovators and business models. The Administration opposes S. 1145 because it does not strike the right balance for all innovators. Unless the provisions limiting inventors’ rights to obtain damages are significantly revised, the Administration believes the resulting harm to the U.S. intellectual property (IP) system would outweigh the bill’s many useful reforms."

"The Administration continues to strongly support the passage of patent modernization legislation that improves patent quality and reduces litigation costs. In fact, the Administration agrees with many of the bill’s provisions— and believes that those provisions pertaining to applicant quality submissions are the only ones that serve to maximize quality in the U.S. IP system. The Administration will continue to work with Congress to enact legislation that will promote innovation throughout all sectors of the economy."

Wienecke's letter states that "The Administration continues to oppose Section 4, ``Right of the Inventor to Obtain Damages.´´ Consequently, we continue to oppose S. 1145 -- in its entirety -- unless Section 4 is significantly revised, as we believe the resulting harm to a reasonably well-functioning U.S. intellectual property system would outweigh all the bill's useful reforms."