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Washington Highlights

Patent Troll Legislation Stalls in the Senate

May 23, 2014—Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) May 21 announced that he was removing from the committee’s agenda draft legislation to curtail certain abusers of the patent system (known as “patent trolls”). In a press statement, six university associations, including the AAMC, and the patent law-centric Innovation Alliance thanked Chairman Leahy for delaying the markup of the measure, which in its current form “would have overly burdened the legitimate enforcement of patents.”

In his statement, Chairman Leahy said, “Unfortunately, there has been no agreement on how to combat the scourge of patent trolls on our economy without burdening the companies and universities who rely on the patent system every day to protect their inventions.  We have heard repeated concerns that the House-passed bill went beyond the scope of addressing patent trolls, and would have severe unintended consequences on legitimate patent holders who employ thousands of Americans.”

Noting a lack of “sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal,” Chairman Leahy left the door open for future action, stating, “If the stakeholders are able to reach a more targeted agreement that focuses on the problem of patent trolls, there will be a path for passage this year, and I will bring it immediately to the Committee.”

The broad coalition statement quotes John Vaughn, executive vice president of the Association of American Universities, saying, “We appreciate the efforts of Chairman Leahy and the entire Judiciary Committee to ensure that in addressing abusive behavior, we don't undermine the system that all patent holders, including America’s inventors, entrepreneurs and universities rely upon to maintain and strengthen our country’s legacy as the global innovation leader.”

The House passed its version of the legislation, the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309), last year [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 6, 2013].


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

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


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