The Senate continues an internal struggle over patent reform. Although a majority of Senators support the proposed reform measures, the majority does not yet have the 60 votes necessary to close debate.
Although the Democrats have been more strongly supporting patent reform, the Senate Bill (S.1145) is clearly bi-partisan. Co-Sponsors include the following Republicans: Orrin Hatch; John Cornyn; Larry Craig; Michael Crapo; Gordon Smith; Roberts; Bennett. Co-Sponsors include the following Democrats: Pat Leahy; Ken Salazar; Chuck Schumer; Sheldon Whitehouse.
The reform measures (already passed in the house) would make numerous changes to the patent laws, including:
Force a large number of patent infringement suits to be filed in the defendant’s home court;
Reduce damage awards for infringement and require specific proof of market value of invention as compared to the closest prior art;
Limit enhanced damages to a specifically enumerated subset of willfully infringing actions;
Create a new, expanded post-grant opposition procedure (specific rules to be created by the PTO);
Create expanded right to submit third-party prior art;
Change to a first-to-file system (creating a whole new set of prior art);
Provide enhanced regulatory authority to the PTO (So that it can enact the continuation changes). . .
Patent reform is an area quite friendly to horse trading and votes are much more easily changed than areas with a greater potential voter response. Few Senators will gain or lose votes based on their patent reform vote.