Patent Overhaul Technical Corrections

Floor Speech

By:  Lamar Smith
Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Location: Unknown

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or AIA, was signed into law on September 16, 2011. It was the first major patent reform bill in over 60 years and the most substantial reform of U.S. patent law since the 1836 Patent Act. The Leahy-Smith AIA reestablishes the United States patent system as a global standard.

Over the past year, the Patent Office has worked diligently to implement the provisions of the act to ensure that the bill realizes its full potential to promote innovation and create jobs. The bill that we consider today includes several technical corrections and improvements that ensure that the implementation of the bill can proceed efficiently and effectively.

The bill is supported by all sectors of our economy from across the United States, including manufacturers, universities, technology, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and innovators. I've also received letters in support from the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, which represents manufacturers, pharmaceutical, technology, defense companies, and universities; the Innovation Alliance, which represents high-tech companies and licensors; and the BSA, the Business Software Alliance, which represents a range of high technology and software companies.

The Leahy-Smith AIA fundamentally changes our Nation's innovation infrastructure. With any such substantive and wide-ranging legislation, unforeseen issues may arise as implementation occurs. H.R. 6621 corrects many of these issues.

This package consists of several technical corrections to the AIA that are essential to the effective implementation of the bill. Other technical corrections and improvements may arise in the future, for example, the issue surrounding the correction of the post-grant review estoppel provision in the Leahy-Smith AIA. This was the result of an inadvertent scrivener's error, an error that was made by legislative counsel. That technical error has resulted in an estoppel provision with a higher threshold than was intended by either House of Congress.

Additionally, we must remain watchful as we examine ways to deal with the abusive and frivolous litigation that American innovators face from patent assertion entities or patent trolls.

As the provisions of the Leahy-Smith AIA continue to take effect, our Nation's innovation infrastructure becomes much stronger, unleashing the full potential of American innovators and job creators.

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, The report on pre-GATT applications refers to applications that were filed prior to the Uruguay Round amendments taking effect in June 1995. The 103rd Congress intended for a brief transition period as the United States patent system was updated. Unfortunately, a small number of applicants have engaged in clearly dilatory behavior and continue to maintain pending applications with effective filing dates that predate 1995. In fact, some of these applications have been pending for 20, 30, and even 40 years.

The 103rd Congress never intended for such applications to stay pending for half a century. To remove such technology from the public domain in 2012, would bear no relation to the patent system's Constitutional purpose to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.

Now it is important for the 113th Congress and the Public to learn fully about these applications from the USPTO. The Committee expects that the report will contribute to an understanding of whether these applications present special circumstances that require further action to protect the public's interests.

Those who may have concerns about this report must understand that there is no way to ``target'' these submarine applications--the targets are, in fact, the people who will be sued once these submarine patents surface. The real targets are American job creators like small businesses, innovators and university researchers. And the public has a right to know in advance if certain widely used and long known technology is about to be withdrawn from the public domain.

The patent system was never intended to be a playground for trial lawyers and frivolous lawsuits. Sound patents should issue in a timely manner and should be used to create wealth and jobs.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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