Issue Date: May 21, 2007
Patent reform bill advances in House
A House subcommittee has taken the first step toward overhauling the U.S. patent system. A bill (H.R. 1908) approved last week by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet & Intellectual Property would align U.S. law with that of most other countries by awarding patents on a "first-to-file" basis. The U.S. system is one of the few that still grants patents to the first inventor rather than the first to file an application. But the legislation also includes a number of contentious provisions strongly opposed by biotech companies. The Biotechnology Industry Organization is particularly concerned that the bill would create an open-ended system for challenging patents after they are granted, under which BIO says patents will have less value. The group also warns that the measure would change the way damages against patent infringers are calculated in a manner that would "devalue the contribution of many biotechnology patents." The bill's next step is consideration by the full House Judiciary Committee. Identical legislation has been introduced in the Senate.
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