Feeds

Patent law passed in US, but Presidential veto could follow

House of Reps. approve smaller fines in copyright spats

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A new US law which would reduce the damages to be paid out for patent infringement has been passed by one half of the US legislature. The proposed law was backed by large technology firms and banks but opposed by smaller tech companies and drug companies.

The Patent Reform Act was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday. It must be passed by a vote of the Senate and signed by the President before becoming law.

The bill's supporters said that it was aimed at improving the quality of patents awarded and cutting down on the amount of expensive litigation over patents that takes place. The law proposes a cut in the damages that can be awarded for patent infringement.

It also changes the basis on which patents are awarded. The US is unusual in awarding patents to the first person to invent a technology. The bill proposes that a patent be awarded to the first person to file a patent application. This is easier to determine and, proponents hope, will result in less litigation.

Software publishers' lobby group the Business Software Alliance, which represents companies such as Microsoft and Apple, had backed the new law, which it says goes some way towards fixing a 'broken' patent system. The large hi-tech companies lobby says that the current system plays into the hands of abusive patent litigation and opportunism.

The bill was passed by just 220 votes to 175 with Democrats largely backing it. The 60 Republicans who voted for the bill were almost cancelled out by the 58 Democrats who crossed the floor and voted against it.

Innovation Alliance is a lobby group which represents smaller technology companies such as InterDigital and Qualcomm. It says that the new law could end up costing small businesses and universities money. Spokeswoman Susan Mora said that it was not acceptable to change the law "so patent infringers can reduce their supposedly soaring litigation costs".

The pharmaceutical industry, which earns its money through licences from drugs it invents, has opposed the change and said that it has been motivated by sector-specific concerns from large software publishers.

There are said to be concerns in the White House about the fact that the new law limits a judge's discretion in awarding patent violation damages. Even if passed by the Senate the law could be blocked by a veto from US President George W Bush.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.