By Donald Zuhn --
With fall fast approaching, it appears that patent reform legislation has returned from a lengthy summer vacation and once again is a topic of conversation, at least in the Senate. In the latest effort to secure passage of the Senate patent reform bill (S. 515), a group of 25 Senators led by the bill's primary supporter, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today, asking him to bring the bill to the Senate floor for consideration "as soon as possible." The letter states that:
A well functioning and efficient patent system is critical to American invention and innovation, which are the cornerstones of our economy and job creation. Patents granted represent jobs for the American people -- jobs developing and producing new products and services, jobs bringing these products and services to the market, and jobs selling these products and services to consumers here and abroad. Strengthening our patent system and spurring innovation and investment is an action we should take now to stimulate our economy.
Joining Senator Leahy on the letter are Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Edward Kaufman (D-DE), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Burr (R-NC), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), George LeMieux (D-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Roland Burris (D-IL), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Thus, the signatories to the bipartisan letter included fifteen Democrats, nine Republicans, and one Independent.
Senator Leahy (at left) provided a link to the letter in a press release posted on his website. The release states that "[t]he legislation will make the first reforms to the nation's patent laws in more than 55 years" (seemingly overlooking both the GATT Uruguay Round implementing legislation in 1995 and the American Inventor's Protection Act of 1999) and contends that the legislation "will update the patent system to improve patent quality and increase certainty among parties in litigation."
The statement also refers to remarks made by President Obama last week underscoring the importance of an effective patent system. In particular, the President discussed "a future where we invest in American innovation and American ingenuity; where we export more goods so we create more jobs here at home; where we make it easier to start a business or patent an invention; where we build a homegrown, clean energy industry -- because I don’t want to see new solar panels or electric cars or advanced batteries manufactured in Europe or Asia. I want to see them made right here in the U.S. of A by American workers."
The press release concludes by noting that the Manager's Amendment to the Seante Judiciary Committee's bill, which was unveiled last March (see "Senate Leadership Unveils Details of Patent Reform Agreement"), is supported by a diverse group of industries and stakeholders, including: The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Microsoft, IBM, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Genentech, Association of American Universities, American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), AdvaMed, Dow Chemical Co., ExxonMobil, Bose, AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), the National Association of Manufacturers, National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), Kodak, Pepsico, and independent inventors.