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Innovation Act Passes House Committee; Patent Reform Bills Advance

A patent reform bill passes the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support, but a medtech industry group isn't pleased.

Marie Thibault

June 12, 2015

2 Min Read
Innovation Act Passes House Committee; Patent Reform Bills Advance

Marie Thibault

One of the patent reform bills introduced in this Congressional session—the Innovation Act (H.R. 9) is set to advance to the House floor after a 24-8 positive vote by the House Judiciary Committee on June 11. While the bill won bipartisan support, the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) expressed their disappointment in the legislation.

The vote on the Innovation Act comes just a week after the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to move the Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship (PATENT) Act (S. 1137) on for consideration by the Senate. With both bills moving forward, patent reform is clearly a key priority for Congress. 

As reported previously, the Innovation Act is intended to combat patent trolls with several measures, including identifying the patent owner before litigation, requiring the plaintiff to explain the claim, requiring quick court decisions on patent validity, awarding attorneys' fees if a lawsuit is found to be frivolous, reducing discovery costs, and allowing small businesses to postpone suits.

In a press release announcing the vote, the Innovation Act was described as a bill that "increases transparency . . . prevents extortion . . . [and] places reasonable limits on venue in patent cases . . ." among other positives. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R–VA), committee chair and main sponsor of the legislation, said in the release, "The Innovation Act takes the necessary steps to address abusive patent litigation, while protecting legitimate property rights.  Specifically, the legislation targets abusive behavior rather than specific entities, preserves valid patent enforcement tools, preserves patent property rights, promotes invention by independents and small businesses, and strengthens the overall patent system."

However, medtech industry group MDMA published a statement criticizing the Innovation Act, calling it "legislation that would thwart innovation and patient care." MDMA president and CEO Mark Leahey said in the press release, "H.R. 9 remains overly broad and would harm medical technology innovation and stifle the development of cures for patients who need them most . . . many provisions in H.R. 9 would severely weaken the ability of small companies and the innovators behind them to attract early stage investment for their inventions and defend them against infringement." 

MDMA has been vocal in its opposition of the legislation in the past. The group wrote a letter setting out its concerns in April and has publicly backed another patent reform bill, the Support Technology and Research for Our Nation's Growth (STRONG) Patents Act of 2015 (S. 632) in the Senate. In general terms, the healthcare industry has shown support for the STRONG Patents Act of 2015 while the technology industry has advocated for the Innovation Act. 

Marie Thibault is the associate editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @medtechmarie

[Image courtesy of VICHAYA KIATYING-ANGSULEE/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET]

About the Author(s)

Marie Thibault

Marie Thibault is the managing editor for Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry and Qmed. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @MedTechMarie.

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