History Repeats Itself: Patent Abusers Successfully Stymie Anti-Patent Troll Bill In The Senate
from the of-course-they-do dept
Back in December, we noted that the House Judiciary Committee had approved an unfortunately watered-down, anti-patent troll bill. It was better than nothing, but we hoped that the Senate would approve a much stronger version. For a while it seemed like that was likely to happen, but… those who abuse patents are pretty damn powerful. Even those who have been hit by patent trolls in the past, like Apple and Microsoft, have decided to join forces in lobbying against meaningful patent reform. They’ve been pushing to water down the Senate’s bill, taking out nearly everything that would make the bill useful — and it appears that they’re succeeding.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing time and time again about an expected manager’s amendment to the bill in the Senate, along with a markup. There was a brief attempt at a markup, but everything keeps getting pushed off. A few more days, then a few more days, as Senate insiders insist that a “deal” is being made. The latest is that things have been pushed off for a few more weeks, as the patent abusers have been throwing their weight around quite a bit in the Senate. A manager’s amendment from Senator Leahy is still expected, but no one is quite sure what will be in it. From talking to a bunch of folks with knowledge of what’s going on, the general consensus is that while some are still optimistic, it seems quite likely that most of the useful stuff to stop patent abuse will get tossed out.
Of course, this is just history repeating itself. The America Invents Act, which was a patent reform bill that was fought over for nearly seven years. In its initial form, like the latest attempts at patent reform, there were some good ideas (mixed in with the bad). But as the patent abusers ramped up their lobbying effort, more and more of the good ideas got stripped out of the bill. After seven years of trying, the final America Invents Act was a shell of what it had been, and did basically nothing to stop patent abuse. And that’s why we’re back to square one with this latest attempt at patent reform.
But, tragically, it looks like a spineless Congress is falling for the lobbying of patent abusers, and there’s a decent chance that they’ll move forward with an essentially worthless attempt at patent reform, meaning that actual innovators — the kind who deal with patent abusers every day — will have to go back to Congress yet again and highlight how badly they mucked things up this time.
Or, you know, Congress could grow a damn spine, do what’s right, and stop patent abuse.