Q: Can you give us a sense on where the committee will go on patents?
A: Fortunately, the courts are also reviewing our patent laws particularly as they pertain to litigation. Some of the decisions they have made in recent years have had, what I think, is a positive impact on reducing the problem of patent trolling and making sure we have a system more reflective of incentivizing people to innovate; as opposed to attempting to profit from a false claim about a patent or a process whereby they threaten litigation which is extraordinary expensive in this field; and then say ‘well we’ll take 40 or 50 thousand dollars to settle.’ There was/is a big industry – I’m told a billion dollar plus industry to do that [i.e. patent trolling].
One of the issues the Court recently agreed to take is with regard to the issue of venue. In the legislation we introduced in the past Congress, we added venue reform to that, and we look looking to see what the court does, which may inform some of our work. We are also looking at a number of other areas and reaching out to people affected by this.
Our goal is to both make sure litigation process is fair; it is not abused, but also make sure that creative works, inventions, are protected, whether the inventor is large or small. The approach here is that patent litigation reform is being linked with civil litigation reform generally – and Republican control suggests making it more difficult to bring claims. Recognize that a number of influential parties, including IPO, have called for reforms to strengthen patent rights – so far that is getting no traction among Republican leadership.