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BIO Deputy General Counsel Testifies on Patent Reform

March 23, 2015
On Wednesday, March 18, BIO’s Deputy Counsel for Intellectual Property, Hans Sauer, testified in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee regarding proposed reforms to the current U.S. patent system.

The hearing was a chance for the Judiciary committee to listen to experts on what should be done to halt misuse of the patent system. In his remarks, Mr. Sauer noted that while BIO appreciates efforts by Congress to curb patent troll abuses, some of the proposals which have been discussed would restrict the ability of patent owners to enforce their patents against infringers.

patent reform june 22 2011

Mr. Sauer pointed out the harm the PTO’s Inter Partes Review system has had on patent holders, with patent invalidation rates that far exceed district court patent litigation, inviting unintended abuses and predatory practices by patent misusers. The STRONG Patents Act, which was introduced by Senators Coons, Durbin, and Hirono, would prevent IPR abuse, and BIO has already lent its support to this bill.

Mr. Sauer encouraged the Committee to develop a legislative package which would minimize patent trolls, as well as abuse of the IPR system, while maintaining the rights of legitimate patent owners to defend their inventions and businesses against infringement. The current environment, he states, has tipped the patent system out of balance, harming patent holders in the process:

“A series of court decisions, Judicial Conference rule changes, PTO actions, and legislative and enforcement activities over the past two years have greatly changed the dynamic for systemic patent litigation reforms …Both the bar and the stakes have been raised in the patent system, and the result has been a substantial decline in patent litigation since this Committee last considered the need for broad patent litigation reforms.


For the biotechnology industry, which relies on small businesses as well as academic partnerships, where R&D is funded through private investment, strong and enforceable patent protections are crucial to ensuring investors their investment will be protected. Investment decline would degrade innovation and hinder America’s ability to produce medicines, renewable energy, and other life changing technologies.

A newly released independent study, commissioned by BIO, documents the significant impact academia-industry patent licensing makes to the U.S. economy, bolstering U.S. gross industry output by up to $1.18 trillion.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Sauer stated that BIO would look forward to continue working with the Judiciary Committee on developing a balanced legislative package, optimistic that targeted solutions for patent reform can be achieved.