Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gathering Patent Reform Storm

With each passing day, the debate over the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1145) intensifies.

I’m seeing more big-name players emerge to attack the Act, which as of this writing is still in the Senate. This week David Snivley, senior vice president and general counsel of global agribusiness Monsanto Co., wrote a terse denunciation of the pending legislation on the Web site of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Earlier this month, more than a dozen labor unions sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging rejection of the Act in its current form.

The letter also cited a recent article reportedly by Yongshun Cheng, a former Chinese judge on the high court of Beijing. He’s quoted saying: In “general the bill favors infringers and burdens patentees more. It is not bad news for developing countries which have lower technological development and relatively fewer patents. Due to the weak foundation of patents, the Chinese products often encounter trouble in the U.S. market. This bill will provide more mechanisms and flexibilities in making patent challenge strategies, and also lower the cost of infringement, therefore the infringement will become easier.”

Even Jon Dudas, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, recently said his agency couldn’t support the Act as written … although he does support patent reform – including changing the nation’s first-to-invent system to first-to-file.

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