By Donald Zuhn --
Last month, more than 90 national and state advocacy organizations sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, urging Congress to enact legislative reforms that will maintain a strong and secure patent system that protects the rights of legitimate patent owners. In the letter, which was addressed to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and Representative John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, the organizations noted that they were "prepared to work with you to strengthen our current patent system to foster an environment ripe for innovation and investment."
The signatories suggested that "that any legislative reforms should maintain a strong and secure patent system that recognizes the rights of legitimate patent owners and addresses the new forms of abuses that have emerged in both the courts and at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO)." While noting that "[p]atents are critical to the drug development process, and strong and reliable patents are the fundamental basis upon which investment in new therapies and treatment occurs," the letter contends that "[t]he PTO has implemented the system [of post-grant proceedings created under the America Invents Act] in such a way that it is now easier to invalidate patents than in district court." The organizations express concern that the Office's implementation of post-grant proceedings "will cause the value of patents to diminish and as a result, investment in new treatments for patients could possibly suffer." "[I]f a patent's value can be easily diminished or challenged on a broad range of grounds at any time during the long drug development process," the groups suggest that "it will be even more difficult to secure financing for therapeutic developments." The signatories therefore request that "Congress address these issues in any comprehensive legislation to ensure the system is balanced."
The national organization signatories include: Allergy & Asthma Network, Alpha-1 Foundation American, Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, American Kidney Fund, Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Bridge The Gap - SYNGAP Education and Research Foundation, CADASIL Together We Have Hope, Caregivers Action Network, Celiac Disease Foundation, Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation, COPD Foundation, Cure SMA, Epilepsy Foundation, EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, Global Colon Cancer Association, Global Genes, Hannah's Hope Fund, HealthHIV, HealthyWomen, Immune Deficiency Foundation, International Cancer Advocacy Network, International Foundation for Autoimmune Arthritis, International Myeloma Foundation, Kidney Cancer Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc., Lupus Foundation of America, Men's Health Network, Mended Hearts, Inc., MLD Foundation, National Adrenal Diseases Foundation, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Coalition for Cancer Research (NCCR), National Council for Behavioral Health, National Grange, National MS Society, National Patient Advocate Foundation, National Psoriasis Foundation, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson's Action Network, Prostate Health Education Network, Inc., Rare and Undiagnosed Network (RUN), RetireSafe, Salud USA, St. Baldrick's Foundation, The AIDS Institute, The ALS Association, The Center for Health Care Services, The Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation, The National Hispanic Council on Aging, Transplant Recipients International Organization, Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, US Pain Foundation, Veterans Health Council, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Vitiligo Support International.
The state organization signatories include: AIDS Delaware, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America – New England Chapter, Colorado Gerontological Society, Community Health Charities of Florida, Community Health Charities of Kentucky, Delaware HIV Consortium, Easter Seals - Iowa, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Epilepsy Foundation of Kentucky, First Step House, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hep C Connection, Hepatitis Education and Liver Support (H.E.A.L.S), Kentucky and Southern Indiana Stroke Association, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Mental Health America of Indiana, Mental Health Systems, National Alliance on Mental Illness – Alabama, National Alliance on Mental Illness - Indiana, National Alliance on Mental Illness – Oregon, National MS Society: Virginia – West Virginia Chapter, Neurofibromatosis, Inc. Mid-Atlantic, New England Community for Cancer Survivorship, Northeast Kidney Foundation, One in Four Chronic Health, Playing for Life Foundation, Rio Grande Valley Diabetes Association, Rocky Mountain Stroke Center, Rush to Live, Rx Partnership, SAGE Utah, Texas Nurse Practitioners, The New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, The Psychiatric Society of Virginia, Utah Pride Center, and Wellness & Education Community Action Health Network.