As of yesterday, a total of approximately five different pieces of legislation aimed at reforming patent litigation have now been proposed or formally introduced in the current Congress. The list is as follows:
- On May 23, 2013, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) released a 38-page discussion draft of legislation that is aimed at addressing “abusive patent litigation” through a number of ways, including early case management procedures, restricting discovery, heightened pleading standards, a customer stay provision, and various amendments to the AIA, among others.
- On May 22, 2013, Senate Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced “The Patent Abuse Reduction Act.” This bill would heighten pleading requirements for alleging patent infringement (abandoning Form 18), restrict discovery, and create a “loser pays” system.
- On May 16, 2013, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) introduced the “End Anonymous Patents Act,” which is aimed at requiring more public disclosure of the ownership interests in patents.
- On May 6, 2013, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced “The Patent Quality Improvement Act,” which would expand the definition of covered business method patents (CBM) that could be challenged under the AIA’s new Transitional Program for CBM patents.
- On February 27, 2013, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced the SHIELD Act of 2013, which is an updated version of prior legislation that is aimed at defining non-practicing entities and requiring that such entities pay attorneys’ fees in the event they do not prevail.
The flurry of legislative proposals appears to demonstrate a recognition by members of Congress that potential reforms may be necessary. Thus, change may be on the horizon. But given that the pending proposals attack the issues in many different ways, it remains to be seen which of the numerous approaches will be able to garner sufficient support to continue to be considered by Congress.