Senate Reform Bill
It appears that the Senate has pulled the plug on the Patent Reform Act (S. 1145) after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the bill from the floor schedule. This is not a huge surprise given the interests against it. (via ars technica)
A problematic area was a proposed change to the award of damages under the provision for Reasonable Royalty Damages. Currently, courts generally consider the value of the entire product when any part of it infringes a patent. The proposed changes would allow judges to base damages only on the “economic value properly attributable to patent’s specific contributions over the prior art.” Opponents of the legislation say it would make it easier for large companies to infringe the patents of small companies or individual inventors.
No indication when the bill will be re-started but expect it back after the new administration comes in.
Tafas v. Dudas
On the other end, the Patent Office is forging ahead with its attempt to force rule changes onto the public whether it has the authority or not (via Patently-O). The USPTO has filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the Tafas v. Dudas case reported earlier.
Dr. Triantafyllos Tafas filed suit against the proposed U.S. Patent Office continuation rules for being void for exceeding the PTO’s authority and won a permanent injunction prohibiting the USPTO from putting the new rules changes into effect.
The court held that, under the existing patent, system an applicant may file an unlimited number of continuation or continuation-in-part applications, RCEs, and claims. As far as continuation and continuation-in-part applications go, 35 USC 120 provides that there is no statutory basis for fixing an arbitrary limit to the number of continuing applications that may be filed and that retain the benefit of the priority date.