Google, patent trolls lose out; Goodlatte accepts Collins’ AIA Section 18 save
In a major defeat for Google lobbyists and patent trolls, a Georgia congressman declared victory Nov. 17 in his fight against the expansion of the process for challenging Covered Business Methods in the proposed Innovation Act, H.R. 3309.
Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R.-Ga.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said the committee’s chairman Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R.-Va.) told him his language preserving the unique appeal process established in the 2011 America Invents Act for CBM patents.
Last week, Collins told Human Events he would file an amendment to the bill before the committee, but now it is unneccesary because Goodlatte incorporated it in the bill using his privilege as the bill’s manager.
“This is great news for patent reform. I commend Chairman Goodlatte and appreciate his leadership in facilitating an open dialogue with the committee and allowing this change, which reflects the position of a growing, bipartisan group of members,” said Collins, who was joined in his effort by Rep. Suzan Belbene (D.-Wash.) and others.
“I look forward to Wednesday’s markup and helping the Chairman champion the Innovation Act both in committee and on the House floor,” he said.
Now more than ever, Congress needs to do everything in its power to help job creators, and patent reform is an important step.”
Because the AIA shifted America’s patent award system from first-to-invent to first-to-file, Wall Street was concerned that CBM’s patentable since 1997 would turn their everyday work into a litigation minefield.
While all patents are not subject to appeal during a nine-month Post Grant Review period, Congress in e Section 18 of the AIA gave financial services firms a separate appeal track that sunsets in 2020.
When Goodlatte began work on the Innovation Act, the AIA follow-up bill, staffers working with Google lobbyists and others included language in the bill that made two important changes to Section 18. First, they expanded the Section 18 patent appeal process to include all products, services and enterprises that use data processing—a significant blow to patent holders looking to defend their intellectual property.
The second big change was to end the section’s sunset provision, which would take what was meant as a transitional program, making it the permanent part of the law. Again, this would reduce the value of patents, as instead of a nine-month window, patents could be challenged forever inside the Patent and Trademark Office’s administrative law courts.
In addition to dealing a blow to Google, whose history of product, service and enterprise development has made it a poster child for intellectual property theft, the Collins’ preservation of the original Section 18 process knocks back patent trolls.
There are many species of patent trolls, but the most common of the menace collect patents of low-value and then harass small and medium size businesses with lawsuits claiming infringements. Often if a business counter-sues or wins damages, the patent troll is revealed to be a hastily established business without assets, only a post office box and a bank account.
In 2012, one government estimate was that patent trolls sent out more than 100,000 letters threatening patent holders.
The expansion of Section 18 would have become a patent troll incubator.
Collins said, “Abusive and frivolous patent litigation isn’t just a Silicon Valley problem—it’s crippling small businesses and startups in my home state of Georgia, and across the nation.”