A House divided on patent reform
After the hearing, Reps. Mike Michaud (D-ME) and Don Manzullo (R-IL) issued a statement along similar lines. They asked the committee to adopt the gatekeeper approach and set a handful of limits on any new post-grant review process.
"The net effect of the [current] bill will be to weaken patent protection by making patents less reliable, easier to challenge and cheaper to infringe," said Manzullo.
Others testifying included Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway; the head of intellectual property at Johnson & Johnson; a venture capitalist focused on medical electronics and a professor from Georgetown University Law School. The Senate held a similar hearing in March that included testimony from IBM and Micron
Rep. Smith spoke in favor of the existing draft and its new post-grant review mechanisms, raising doubts about the Senate's gatekeeper approach to damages. He also spoke on behalf of tougher limits on choosing jurisdictions for infringement cases.
Smith cited a recent study that valued U.S. intellectual property at about $5 trillion or half the gross domestic product.
"This bill eliminates the legal gamesmanship that rewards lawsuit abuses over genuine innovation and creativity," Smith said. "It enhances the quality of patents and increases public confidence in their integrity," he added.
In the last Congress, a patent reform bill, HR 1908 was passed in the House of Representatives in September 2007. However its companion bill--S.1145--failed to make it to the Senate floor for a vote in 2008.