Political Posturing & Patent Reform

With the Senate momentum on Patent Reform Bill S.515 seemingly leading to a vote before Memorial Day, House members seeking a voice in the final bill have focused opposition efforts on the PTO funding/fee diversion aspect of the bill.

Wednesday, in an exchange with USPTO Director David Kappos during an oversight hearing with the House Judiciary Committee, Chair John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) probed the USPTO on whether or not the PTO funding should be severed from S.515 as a stand-alone bill.

As one of the drivers behind moving the bill forward is clearly the urgency of the PTO funding issue, the sniping from the House appears to be more of a tactic to force compromise rather than a genuine interest in a separate bill. Certainly, taking the wind out of the Senate sails by removing fee diversion could provide an opportunity to bog down S.515 in further debate.

During the hearing Conyers, stated that efforts to reach a deal with the Senate on S.515 are not progressing noting that the cooperative efforts seem "to be stalled somewhere between House and Senate." Whether this statement is an accurate depiction of the true situation or simply the grandstanding of those on the sideline remains to be seen. Discussions between the House and Senate on S.515 remain ongoing.

Director Kappos stood firm, indicating that the Patent Reform legislation was needed, and that USPTO funding should remain an aspect of the broader bill. Of course, the political maneuvering is likely to continue as the bill winds its way through Congress.

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