House Approves (Weakened) Anti-Patent Trolling Bill, Now We Wait For The Senate

from the a-step-forward dept

Earlier today, after some debate on various amendments, the House overwhelmingly approved the Innovation Act by a vote of 325-91. There had been some attempts to completely wipe out the key clauses of the bill. Reps. John Conyers and Mel Watt (two of the biggest SOPA supporters) supported an amendment that basically made the entire bill useless, claiming they were afraid that the current bill would somehow harm good, hardworking patent trolls. The reality is that they wanted to kill the fee-shifting provision that makes the loser pay the legal fees of the other side. Trial lawyers tend to hate fee-shifting. Thankfully that proposal was rejected, though I find it amusing that Watt and Conyers claimed to be so worried about "rushing" into patent law changes, when they'd been so eager to support massive copyright changes in SOPA.

Unfortunately, the bill that did pass had already been watered down by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (who sponsored the overall bill), when he was convinced by heavy lobbying from Microsoft, IBM and a few other large patent holders to remove the "covered business method" program from the bill. That's the program that lets the USPTO more quickly review and toss out bad patents it never should have granted. The only reason I can think not to have that program in there is... if you happen to have a lot of really crappy patents. Thankfully, it appears there's more support for such a program on the Senate side, though Microsoft is still lobbying hard on this.

And, that brings us to the Senate side. While there's a bill out there, it's unclear when it'll actually come to the floor for a vote -- almost certainly not until next year. Plus there's still lots of lobbying against the whole thing, so this could collapse into nothing. But, in the short run, it's at least a big step towards stopping the worst patent trolls out there.

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 6 Dec 2013 @ 1:36am

    Re:

    Dana Rohrabacher has an interesting article that mentions why this House bill is fraught with unintended consequences that make it only too clear this bill is about "The Big Un's" feathering their legal nest by swatting away pests.

    That article is so full of wrong it's not even funny. That's an article from a supporter of patent trolling. This bill doesn't go nearly far enough in swatting down patent trolls, but whining about how this will harm those poor poor patent trolls. Come on. You're so transparent.

    Yes, there are some neer-do-wells who work at gaming the system, just like virtually all other areas of law.

    Uh, no. The MAJORITY of the system is gamed by neer-do-wells at this point. The system is broken. Look, I know it's been a big part of your life, and you can't see through the massive blinders you have on reality, but you're simply wrong about this one. The patent system is broken. This is a small fix that will only hurt the worst of the worst. It needs to go further.

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