Department of Commerce Sends Letter to Congress Expressing Administration’s Views on Pending Patent Reform Legislation

WASHINGTON – Late yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke submitted a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing the administration’s view that the draft Manager’s Amendment to existing Senate patent reform legislation will make the reforms more effective upon implementation. Reforming the patent system will accelerate economic growth and job creation, and expand America’s ability to innovate.

In the letter, Locke expressed the administration’s position that the draft Manager’s Amendment to S.515, the “Patent Reform Act of 2010,” saying that it “improves the reported bill and incorporates critical elements of patent reform.” At the same time, the administration is supportive of ongoing discussions to resolve differences between the House and the Senate on patent reform. The letter restates the administration’s commitment to work with both houses of Congress to arrive at a final bill for passage this session.

“Regardless of any issues that remain under discussion (between the House and Senate), there is a consensus that a strong patent system, including an appropriately funded and well-functioning United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), fosters innovation that drives economic growth and creates jobs,” Locke said in the letter.

The letter praises the Manager’s Amendment to S.515 for “including key provisions that fairly balance the interests of innovation and competition across all industries without favoring one industry or particular area of technology over another.” These provisions would:

* Provide authority to the USPTO to adjust patent and trademark fees as needed to reflect the USPTO’s actual costs of providing services to patent applicants.
* Establish post-grant review procedures for reviewing patent validity that provide a faster, lower-cost alternative to litigation.
* Promote international harmonization of patent laws.
* Maintain the compromise of reasonable royalty damages for patent infringement and limit opportunities for abuse in patent litigation.
* Transition our patent law to a first-inventor-to-file system.