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U.S. Legislators Propose Sweeping Patent Reforms

April 19, 2007

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers have just  introduced patent overhaul legislation that is intended, in part, to weed out bad patents.

"Crafted for an earlier time, when smokestacks rather than microchips were the emblems of industry, (patent laws) have served well, but need some refinements," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont).

This is not a one-party, one ideology measure. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, and Democratic Rep. Howard Berman of California are co-sponsors.


The legislation, is backed by many software and hardware companies, but opposed by many pharmaceutical corporations.

Arguably, the key provision in this legislation would reviseU.S. law that grants a patent to the person who can show he or she was first to come up with an invention, with a provision giving the patent to the first person to file an application for the invention.

Another portion of the legislation would specify a damages cap would be enacted in cases where an infringed patent covers only a small portion of the invention or product.

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