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  • Washington Highlights

    Senate, House Members Reintroduce STRONGER Patents Act

    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations
    Stephen Heinig, Director, Science Policy

    Several members of Congress July 10 reintroduced the Support Technology and Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience Patents Act (STRONGER Patents Act, S. 2082, H.R. 3666). According to a press release from lead sponsor Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), the bipartisan, bicameral bill would “restore and strengthen the U.S. patent system by implementing measures to make it easier and less costly for patent holders to enforce their patents.”

    The bill, originally co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.), primarily strengthens the position of patent holders in judicial and administrative proceedings. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-29) established a process by which third parties could challenge the validity of patents within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This inter partes review process was intended to be speedier and less expensive than litigating a patent in court, though some believe that these proceedings — and the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) overseeing them — too readily favor plaintiffs over legitimate inventors.

    The STRONGER Patents Act would clarify standards for the interpretation of patent claims and other technical matters, leaving less ambiguity for challengers to exploit. The bill also would specify a presumption of validity for patents in PTAB proceedings and require plaintiffs to meet a “clear and convincing” burden-of-proof standard for overturning a patent.

    The AAMC joined members of the higher education and research communities in supporting the legislation. In a press release, the groups noted that “universities and academic medical centers rely on robust, enforceable patents to ensure their research discoveries will be developed into products and innovative techniques that improve quality of life and fuel economic growth.” The STRONGER Patents Act would work to support this technology transfer process.