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Patent reform proposal withers in Senate

There is widespread disagreement over how to define patent trolls

A bill that was supposed to address the problems associated with “patent trolls” has been scrapped by the U.S. Senate.

Senators have found there is wide disagreement on how to define patent trolls, with concerns for universities, garage inventors and businesses that may want to hold onto technology for a while.

In addition, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he was "surprised and disappointed that the Senate Democratic leadership is not willing to move forward on a bill that we've worked on so hard."

"We put in a good faith effort to get to this point, and it's too bad that the bill is being pulled from the agenda," Grassley added in the statement.

On the other hand, among those opposing the bill were the American Council on Education and Association of American Universities.

In a May 20 letter to the Judiciary Committee, the groups said, “We believe the measures in the legislation … go far beyond what is necessary or desirable to combat abusive patent litigation, and would do serious damage to the patent system. Many of the provisions would have the effect of treating every patent holder as a patent troll; other provisions seriously weaken legitimate patent enforcement while lacking any discernable impact on curbing the abusive practices of patent trolls. The effect of the proposed legislation is to weaken the ability of every patent holder to enforce a patent and promote a business model that does not rely on patents, thereby discouraging investment in innovation.”

Contributing Author

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Ed Silverstein

Ed Silverstein is a veteran writer and editor for magazines, websites and newspapers. A graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he has won several...

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