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AAMC Joins University Associations in Testimony on Prior User Rights

February 10, 2012—The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held a Feb. 1 hearing on “prior user rights” (PUR).  The AAMC and five other higher education associations endorsed testimony , delivered by John Vaughn, Ph.D., executive vice president of the Association of American Universities, supporting the compromise reached as part of the America Invents Act (AIA, P.L. 112-29) [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 9].

In reforming much of the patent system, the AIA substantially expanded the rights (known as prior user rights) of manufacturers and other businesses to defend against patent infringement if they had used a patented technology before the patent was awarded.  As Dr. Vaughn testified, the PUR defense was largely supported by industry as added security from so-called “patent trolls” who collect and enforce patents solely for financial remuneration, not to invent or practice new technologies themselves.  The university community originally opposed the provision, but ultimately supported a compromise exempting patents awarded to academic institutions from the PUR defense.  Other witnesses supported the university exemption as passed under the AIA.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director David Kappos also tesitified, crediting university research as one of the factors making the United States internationally competitive today.  Citing a PTO report, Director Kappos supported retaining the provisions of the AIA until at least 2015, when a review on implementation is scheduled. 


Stephen Heinig
Director, Science Policy
Telephone: 202-828-0488

Matthew Shick, JD
Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs
Telephone: 202-862-6116


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806