Now that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has successfully shepherded the Innovation Act through his committee, I’m heartened to note the significant major reforms that made it through the process.
This latest effort at patent reform targets some particular problems in patent litigation, including provisions dealing with venue and discovery. Like the chairman, I was pleased with the committee’s strong 24-8 vote last week in favor of the reform-focused act, which now goes to the full House for approval. The chairman is right to mark the committee vote as a major step forward.
I’m particularly happy to see the latest draft includes an amendment from Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., (co-sponsored by Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas) that provides for a “stay of discovery pending a preliminary motion.” Limiting discovery proceedings – especially in early phases of patent litigation, when the trial court is still trying to determine the nature and scope of the claim – will make the costs of defending patent claims more containable. The amendment also includes carve-outs for Food and Drug Administration and biological product applications under 35 USC 271(e)(2), so the new stay-of-discovery provision wouldn’t apply to parties in infringement actions brought under that subsection.
I also applaud the latest version’s language to put reasonable limits on the appropriate venue for patent-litigation cases. It’s an important first step to limit forum-shopping by patent trolls.
Patent reform advocates have good reason to look forward to final passage of the Innovation Act by the full House and eventual harmonization with its Senate counterpart, the PATENT Act.