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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC, University Associations Thank Senators for Introducing Patent Troll Bill

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs
    Stephen Heinig, Director, Science Policy

    The AAMC joined a group of six higher education associations in an April 30 statement praising the Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act (PATENT Act) as a “substantial improvement” over the Innovation Act (H.R. 9), which passed the House in the previous Congress but stalled in the Senate due to concerns that it was too broad.

    Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) April 29 introduced the legislation designed to curb the abusive patent litigation practices of so-called “patent trolls.” Judiciary Committee members Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are also original cosponsors of the bill. The measure reflects the concerns previously expressed by senators about the impact on universities [see Washington Highlights, March 20].

    The university statement notes, “We are encouraged that, in contrast to H.R. 9, the PATENT Act creates a non-presumptive fee-shifting standard, as well as a mechanism for recovery of fees that would discourage patent trolls from litigating through judgment-proof shell companies but not sweep in universities and other good-faith patent holders.”

    Under the new fee-shifting provisions, reasonable attorney fees will be awarded only if a court determines the position or conduct of the non-prevailing party (plaintiff or defendant) was not “objectively reasonable.”

    The new joinder provisions for fee recovery would allow courts to exempt institutions of higher education when they are named as an interested party in a suit by a judgment-proof patent troll.