House Judiciary Passes Patent Reform Language

BY Heather Greenfield
June 11, 2015

Washington — The House Judiciary Committee approved language for its patent reform bill Thursday that would go a long way towards reining in the still-growing patent troll industry. It would require clarity in court filings and reduce the costs of patent litigation.

One debated language change involved whether patent trolls can request venue changes to patent-friendly courts. Ahead of the hearing Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted that it’s hard to stop the abuse of our patent system without addressing venue changes. We are pleased that the Judiciary Committee approved an amendment to strengthen language directed at ending forum-shopping by patent trolls. We are also pleased that the Committee strengthened the provision that stops discovery costs from running until key issues in a case are resolved. We do support Rep. Chaffetz’s, R-Utah, effort to keep the inter partes review program as it is now, and look forward to offering our thoughts to Chairman Goodlatte, R-VA as the bill moves forward.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for reforms to prevent the misuse of the patent system for more than a decade. The following can be attributed to CCIA patent counsel Matt Levy:

“The Innovation Act approved by the House Judiciary Committee is, overall, a strong bill aimed at the patent troll problem. While Chairman Goodlatte had to make some compromises, he and the Committee managed to keep the bill focused on patent trolls.

“One big improvement in the Innovation Act over the Senate’s PATENT Act is the inclusion of a provision that will shrink the litigation factory in the Eastern District of Texas. Patent trolls frequently file in the courts of the Eastern District of Texas because their judges interpret the rules in a way that runs up costs quickly for defendants. Litigations should be brought in districts with real connections to the parties or the facts of the case, and the Innovation Act brings some sanity to the choice of venue in patent cases.

“Another major provision will stop discovery costs from accumulating until a defendant has the chance to ask the court to resolve key issues in the case. These include whether the case is in the right court and whether the complaint has enough information. I was very pleased that the Judiciary Committee strengthened this provision in markup.

“While the pharmaceutical industry has used this opportunity to seek special protections for itself at the expense of everyone else, I’m pleased that the worst of their proposals did not get into this bill. I applaud Chairman Goodlatte for holding the line.”

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