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BIO and University Organizations offer Support of STRONG Patents Act

March 12, 2015
On March 4, 2015, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a new bill, The STRONG Patents Act of 2015. Sponsored alongside Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the bill is offered as a complement to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte’s (R-VA) Innovation Act, which many in the biotech sector see as an imbalanced bill.

The STRONG Patents Act of 2015 would target the abusive practices of patent trolls in a narrowly tailored setting, with “carefully calibrated measures” that would not harm patent holders in the process. It would also add a number of “patent friendly” provisions to offset and balance the “patent-hostile” concepts that are currently being considered by Congress.

BIO, the National Venture Capital Association, and several major university groups, including the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities have offered their support for The STRONG Patents Act.

In a statement, BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood said that “BIO supports the STRONG Patents Act of 2015 and will continue to advocate for passage of legislation to curb abusive patent practices, while not undermining the ability of patent owners to defend their inventions and businesses against infringement.”

US Patent Application

Chairman Goodlatte’s bill has concerned many in the biotech and university sectors, who worry that the efforts to reign in abusive patent enforcement practices outlined in the Innovation Act would end up harming legitimate patent owners. The American Council on Education and the Association of American Universities called the Innovation Act “overly broad” and debilitating to the U.S. patent system.

In his statement of support for the STRONG Patents Act, APLU President Peter McPherson emphasized that “this measure would help ensure the strength of the technology transfer process, which significantly contributes to our nation’s leadership in science and technology.”

Some highlights of the bill relate to patent challenge proceedings in the US Patent and Trademark Office, which are widely viewed as unfairly biased against patentees. The STRONG Patents Act would 1) require challenged patent claims to be presumed valid, placing the burden on the challenger and not the patent holder to prove they are invalid, and 2) require patent claims challenged in these proceedings to be interpreted as they would be in litigation in Federal District Court, thereby helping to ensure that the decisions of courts and the Patent Office are consistent with each other.

BIO will continue to work with legislators as they address changes to the patent system.