Although the Senate will likely run out of time to consider patent reform this year, a committee staff member said lawmakers are committed to passing the legislation before the end of the 110th Congress.
The Patent Reform Act will probably go to the Senate floor after Congress returns from the holidays in early 2008, Matthew Sandgren, counsel to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), said at CBI Research’s conference on Effective Patent, Intellectual Property and Trademark Strategies Nov. 15. He assured attendees that Hatch has stipulated the bill is for innovators and is aimed at preserving innovation, not hurting the pharmaceutical industry. “This isn’t a generic companies’ bill,” he said.
Before the bill goes to the Senate floor, a few outstanding issues need to be addressed, and lawmakers have been working to negotiate these key provisions, Sandgren said.
One issue is post-grant review. The goal of this provision is to establish an administrative procedure for reexamining patents that is cheaper and more efficient than litigation, Sandgren said. The provision allows a party to initiate a review of a patent within a year of its issuance and, under the Senate version, after 12 months with certain restrictions. The House bill eliminated this so-called second window for initiating a review.