02.28.11

Leahy Opens U.S. Senate Debate On Patent Reform Legislation

Legislation Is Result Of Six Years Of Debate, Consideration In Congress

WASHINGTON (Monday, Feb. 28, 2011) – The Senate Monday afternoon began debate on long-pending legislation to make the first comprehensive reforms to the nation’s patent system in nearly six decades.  The legislation is authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).  Leahy first introduced bipartisan patent reform legislation in 2006, and as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has pressed the Senate to take up the legislation.

“The Patent Reform Act is a key part of any jobs agenda,” said Leahy.  “We can help unleash innovation and promote American invention, all without adding a penny to the deficit.  This is commonsense, bipartisan legislation.”

Patent reform legislation has been introduced in the Senate and in the House in each of the last four Congresses.  Earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported the Patent Reform Act to the full Senate for consideration for the third consecutive Congress.  The Committee voted 15-0 to send the legislation to the full Senate.

“This country’s first patent was issued to a Vermonter.  Thomas Jefferson, the Secretary of State, examined the application, and President George Washington signed it,” Leahy said.  “A balanced and efficient intellectual property system that rewards invention and promotes innovation through high quality patents is crucial to our nation’s economic prosperity and job growth.”

The Patent Reform Act will improve and harmonize operations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; it will improve the quality of patents that are issued; and it will provide more certainty in litigation. In particular, the legislation will move this nation’s patent system to a first-inventor-to-file system, make important quality enhancement mechanisms, and provide the PTO with the resources it needs to work through its backlog by providing it with fee setting authority, subject to oversight. 

The Patent Reform Act is supported by cross-sector manufacturers, innovators, small businesses and inventors, high-tech, universities, pharmaceuticals and biotech, labor, bar associations, financial planners, and others.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

The Senate will debate the Patent Reform Act this week.  The full text of Leahy’s opening remarks is available online.

A fact sheet on Vermont and The Patent Reform Act can be found here.

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