New law would sap patent protection.

The Patent Reform Act of 2007 would do little reforming but much harm.  Specifically, it would:

  • Restrict where a patent holder may sue for infringement.
  • Limit damages to a fraction of a patent’s value to the infringer.
  • Cut damages for willful infringement.
  • Add protections for willful infringers.
  • Slow and fracture litigation by allowing interlocutory appeals from Markman (claim construction) rulings.
  • Increase bureaucratic control over patent validity issues.

These changes seem the more remarkable for their failure to address genuine concerns about the patent system, including:

  • Patentability of scientific principles.
  • Standards for issuing permanent injunctions.
  • Backlog and delays in considering patent applications.

The changes indeed appear to aim not at reforming patent law but at weakening it.  Even the U.S. Department of Commerce opposes key parts of the bill! 

And guess who joyously supports it — and may even have helped draft it?  Correct:  repeat infringers like Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Broadcom, Applied Materials, and Hewlett-Packard.


Barry Barnett

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