Companies of all sizes seek to focus on business development rather than on patent proceedings. Patents and the implementation of patents are a fundamental part of the ordinary operations of many businesses outside of the pharma/tech industries. Development and implementation of patentable technologies drives the innovations that set these businesses apart from their counterparts. When these types of businesses are considering filing a patent infringement action, it is because they face actual current issues in the marketplace that threaten the success, the growth, and sometimes the lives of their business, their innovations, their brands, and their investments in R&D. Consequently, if there is to be patent “reform,” it is important to focus on the needs of businesses outside of the pharma/tech divide. Those businesses have broad investment in their innovations and in obtaining patent rights, and they need to be assured of their ability to rely on those rights. Current and proposed “reform” is preventing many of these businesses from enjoying any benefit from their patents.
On March 18, the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee conducted and broadcast a full committee hearing on “The Impact of Abusive Patent Litigation Practices on the American Economy.” During the proceedings, a concern was raised about whether the “reform,” (which was intended to curb abuse of the system by the “patent troll” non-practicing entities), actually posed a barrier for seed, start-ups, small businesses and “non-troll” non-practicing entities to obtain capital or to enforce the patents obtained through their investment. On March 19th the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship debated the need for a “balanced approach” on patent litigation reform, with the representative from the Small Business Technology Council characterizing the proposed legislation as the “Ending the American Dream Act.”
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