I just watched a couple-month old Federalist Society Speech by House Judiciary Chair Goodlatte who offered his agenda for the committee over the next year, including further reforms to “reduce abusive patent litigation.” Rep. Goodlatte’s prepared remarks on the topic are fairly short:
We’ll also work on reforms to discourage abusive patent litigation and keep U.S. patent laws up to date. Collectively, these reforms will help alleviate the wasteful burden of unnecessarily expensive litigation costs, thereby freeing small businesses to flourish, unleash innovation, and create new jobs for Americans.
Following his prepared statement, Chair Goodlatte expanded upon his approach:
Q: Can you give us a sense on Where the committee will go on patents?
A: We are definitely going to continue to pursue patent litigation reform.
Fortunately, the courts are also reviewing our patent laws particularly as they pertain to litigation. Some of the decisions they have made in recent years have had, what I think, is a positive impact on reducing the problem of patent trolling and making sure we have a system more reflective of incentivizing people to innovate; as opposed to attempting to profit from a false claim about a patent or a process whereby they threaten litigation which is extraordinary expensive in this field; and then say ‘well we’ll take 40 or 50 thousand dollars to settle.’ There was/is a big industry – I’m told a billion dollar plus industry to do that [i.e. patent trolling].
One of the issues the Court recently agreed to take is with regard to the issue of venue. . . In the legislation we introduced in the past Congress, we added venue reform to that, and we look looking to see what the court does, which may inform some of our work. We are also looking at a number of other areas and reaching out to people affected by this.
[Our goal is to] both make sure litigation process is fair ,it is not abused, but also make sure that creative works, inventions, are protected, whether the inventor is large or small.
The approach here is that patent litigation reform is being linked with civil litigation reform generally – and Republican control suggests making it more difficult to bring claims. Recognize that a number of influential parties, including IPO, have called for reforms to strengthen patent rights – so far that is getting no traction among Republican leadership.