Smith: Patent Reform a Fair Result

Posted June 15, 2011 at 4:24pm

The one-sided reporting in the June 15 article “Patent Carve-Out Finds Opponents Left and Right” on H.R. 1249 is unacceptable. The story extensively reports on the claims of a small group of opponents, without mentioning the large majority support for the House’s patent reform proposal.

The Senate passed patent reform by a vote of 95-5. And the House Judiciary Committee reported H.R. 1249 by a vote of 32-3. The bill enjoys broad support from industry leaders, independent inventors and more than 250 American universities.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “this legislation is crucial for American economic growth, jobs and the future of U.S. competitiveness.”

Contrary to claims by critics, Section 18 of the bill is not a gift to any industry or group. It corrects mistakes that occurred following the creation of a new class of patents called business-method patents in the late ’90s.

 The Patent and Trademark Office was ill-equipped to handle the flood of business-method patent applications. Few examiners had the necessary background and education to understand the inventions, and the PTO lacked information regarding prior art. As a result, the PTO issued some weak patents that have led to frivolous lawsuits. 

Section 18 establishes a pilot program that allows the PTO to re-examine a limited group of questionable business-method patents.

If someone is being sued by a business-method patent holder, that individual can petition the PTO to review the patent in question using the best prior art available.

Bad patents that never should have been issued will be eliminated. Good patents that pass muster under this scrutiny will have even stronger legal integrity. This isn’t favoritism, it is a fair result for all parties.

Rather than just taking the talking points of a few critics, Roll Call should fairly report the full story.