Advanced Topics in Patent Law

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The Patent Reform Act
The USPTO has been unable to keep up with its workload, resulting in major delays. There have also been questions about patent quality and increased litigation. The last time the patent system was updated was more than 50 years ago. Since then, there have been major improvements in science and technology. Recent Supreme Court decisions have made it clear that it has been easy for questionable patents to be obtained and difficult to challenge them. However, it is not up to the courts to change the law, this is a task for Congress. As Senator Leahy has stated, “[if] we are to maintain our position at the forefront of the global economy and continue to lead the world in innovation and production, we
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This is because small patent holders are obtaining patents for products that they do not sell or manufacture, wait for a large company to infringe, and then demand a high royalty to continue to make the patented product. These small patent holders are disparagingly called “patent trolls.” The Coalition for Patent Fairness agreed with Supreme Court Justice Kennedy in his concurring opinion in eBay Inc v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 126 S. Ct. 1837 (2006) which noted that, “An industry has developed in which firms use patents not as a basis for producing and selling goods but, instead, primarily for obtaining licensing fees.” Employees at large firms are now spending a great deal of time in litigation rather than on innovation.
Some of the companies that are members of the Coalition for Patent Fairness include: Apple, Comcast, Dell, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Palm, Inc., and Time Warner. A number of other institutions and experts have also joined the coalition including the Federal Trade Commission and the National Academy of Sciences.
2. Coalition for the 21st Century Patent Reform
The Coalition for the 21st Century Patent Reform (“the Coalition”) is made up of more than 40 pharmaceutical and technology-based corporations. Each of the members of the Coalition operates major research, development, and manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and sells their products abroad. Members of the coalition believe

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