Senate to hold its first hearings on Patent Reform Act of 2007

June 01, 2007
Post by Blog Staff

While the House subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property (a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee) held hearings on the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 1908, S. 1145) at the end of April, the Senate is just now getting into the act. On Wednesday, June 6 at 10:00 Eastern time, the full Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings entitled "Patent Reform: The Future of American Innovation." For those interested in watching the hearings, C-SPAN has not yet posted which hearings will be televised on that day. [Update (6/6): While the hearings are not on C-SPAN, a live webcast is available via the Judiciary Committee website here.]

Those scheduled to appear are:

[Update (6/5): Since the time of posting, the list of those testifying has been changed on the Senate website. The list above has been updated, with the replacements listed below the removal from the list. No explanation was given for the change.]

Thoughts on the hearings and witnesses after the jump.

An astute observer would notice that all of the representatives from corporations are from groups who are likely to favor the patent reform efforts currently in Congress, as they are from the technology and financial industries. It is curious that no representatives from biotechnology, pharmaceutical, or even University technology transfer offices were invited to testify before the committee, but it makes it reasonably likely that the testimony next week will be in favor of reform. [Update (6/5): The list of testifying individuals has been changed, and now includes one representative from the pharmaceutical industry, so the panel should not be totally pro-reform.]

Director Dudas's views on patent reform will likely be more interesting (and potentially more revealing). It is also reasonably likely that he would express support for many of the reforms currently proposed, as the USPTO has previously linked increased patent quality with a decrease in the percentage of patent applications that are allowed to issue as patents.

Also, Director Dudas spoke earlier this year at the Tech Policy Summit regarding patent reform. The main issue highlighted in his remarks there dealt with the obviousness requirement, which the Supreme Court has now addressed in the KSR decision. Director Dudas also wants to increase the quality of information available to patent examiners in order to increase patent quality, so expect him to come out in favor of the third-party submission provisions of the Patent Reform Act of 2007 .

Given the lineup of witnesses, one thing seems clear: the message will be that patent reform, at least in some capacity, is needed. We'll be watching to see how the testimony turns out.

HT: Peter Zura.

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