Feeds

Patent law passed in US, but Presidential veto could follow

House of Reps. approve smaller fines in copyright spats

High performance access to file storage

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.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.