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  • Washington Highlights

    Higher Education Associations Weigh in on Patent Bills

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

    The AAMC joined five fellow higher education associations in a June 10 statement opposing The Innovation Act (H.R. 9) specifically citing concerns regarding the “Manager’s Amendment and the process by which the legislation has been developed.” The bill passed (24-8) the House Judiciary Committee on June 11.

    While the bill appropriately aims at curbing abusive patent litigation, the associations argue the bill would weaken patent protection for authentic inventors and innovative organizations, and would, for academic institutions, undermine the transfer of laboratory discoveries into commercial application.

    The groups urge “We strongly support reducing abusive patent litigation practices” but state preference for legislation similar to the Senate PATENT Act (S. 1137), passed June 4 by the Senate Judiciary Committee [see Washington Highlights, June 5].

    The statement continues, “H.R. 9 is not targeted to address the small minority of patent holders that are abusing the system. Rather the bill would weaken the entire patent system. H.R. 9 would make it far more difficult, risky, and costly for all patent holders to defend their rights in good faith, and thus seriously undermine the ability of universities to engage in technology transfer, the process by which universities make their research discoveries available to private sector enterprises for development into products. This process helps create innovations that drive our economy, enhance public health, and improve quality of life.”

    If both H.R. 9 and S. 1137 pass their respective chambers, legislative differences would be reconciled by a conference committee. The administration has promised to sign patent legislation this year that would protect industries developing or using technology from abusive litigation.