After seeing the Senate Judiciary Committee vote to approve Senate bill S.515, the Patent Reform Act of 2009 (Leahy, Hatch, Schumer, Whitehouse), you have to wonder why compromise couldn’t have arrived earlier — and with fewer campaign donations.

But, preliminary reactions seem hopeful:

Innovation Alliance

The Innovation Alliance, a coalition of companies seeking to enhance America’s innovation environment by improving the quality of patents and protecting the integrity of the U.S. patent system, gave mixed reviews to the Patent Reform Act of 2009 (S.515), as approved today by a divided Senate Judiciary Committee:

“We are encouraged that the Committee has expressed a desire to continue working to achieve a true consensus,” said Brian Pomper, Innovation Alliance executive director. “This is welcome news, as we believe the post-grant review provisions approved today threaten to diminish the value and enforceability of U.S. patent rights at a time when America’s economic recovery and future job creation are dependent upon promoting U.S. innovation.”

Pomper noted that the post-grant review provisions of S.515 would create multiple avenues for challenging a patent’s validity without any meaningful protections to prevent abusive or serial attacks.  As a result, U.S. patent holders will spend precious time and resources defending their innovations against challengers, including foreign competitors, with much reduced odds of succeeding.  Small innovators will find it particularly difficult to defend their rights against larger and better-financed challengers, who could mount post-grant challenges for purely competitive reasons against perfectly valid patents.

Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform

The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform sent their letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of compromise patent reform legislation introduced in today’s mark up.

Our Coalition appreciates and recognizes the focus and hard work by Senators and their staff over the past several weeks that led to the reporting of the bill by the Committee. The compromise package, together with the other critical provisions of the bill, should improve the U.S. patent system.

With today’s vote, the 111th Congress has set a course that will foster American innovation and employment by ensuring the patent system is fair, balanced and promotes research and innovation.”

Biotechnology Industry Organization

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood issued a statement regarding a consensus agreement on patent reform legislation which was approved by the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee:

“BIO commends the Senate Judiciary Committee for its success in developing a more consensus-oriented approach to patent reform legislation – one that makes encouraging progress toward reforms that will help strengthen and improve our nation’s patent system.  Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), we are optimistic that we will now see meaningful patent reform that preserves the incentives necessary to sustain America’s global leadership in innovation and spurs the creation of high-wage, high-value jobs in our nation’s innovation economy.

“We greatly appreciate the tireless efforts of Senators Leahy, Feinstein and Specter to craft careful compromises on several key issues, including damages and post-grant review.  While no compromise is ever perfect, we believe the Committee’s product breaks the logjam on the major issues that have held up patent reform for the past several Congresses and will clear the path for a bill to be completed without undue delay.

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