A bipartisan group of members of the House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), introduced legislation (H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act) to address abuses of the U.S. patent system, discourage frivolous litigation, and update U.S. patent laws. It incorporates provisions in several other bills introduced in recent months, including S. 1013 by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Among other things, H.R. 3309 includes heightened pleading standards and transparency provisions that require parties to undertake a minimum level of due diligence up front before filing an infringement suit. Upon filing the initial complaint, the plaintiff would be required to provide parties, the court and the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) with basic information about the patent, including the ultimate parent entity and parties with a financial interest in the patent. It also requires the patentee to keep that information updated for the life of the patent.
The legislation also modifies a number of procedures and practices, and it requires others to be implemented by the Judicial Conference of the United States. It requires the Judicial Conference to promulgate rules and procedures on core document discovery; provides for procedures to ensure initial disclosure and early case management conference practices in District Courts, to help identify any potentially case-dispositive issues; and requires the Supreme Court to eliminate Form 18 (Complaint for Patent Infringement) while allowing for the development of an updated form. To view a section-by-section summary of the legislation, visit this link.
Patent reform legislation is not expected to move quickly through Congress because of divisions in the tech industry over the role of the PTO in challenging the validity of a patent. Internet companies want to give the patent office more oversight over software infringement claims, while software companies that have large patent portfolios contend that the system is already effective in addressing the broad patents that trolls use to secure legal settlements.