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The Year Of Living Busily

Publication Date: 
December 15, 2009
Corporate Counsel
Susan Hansen

Professor Mark Lemley, an expert in intellectual property law, is quoted in this article on the possibility of Congress passing a patent reform bill this year:

Likewise, Seattle-based RealNet-works Inc. suffered a defeat in its ongoing battle with the Motion Picture Association of America. In September federal district court judge Marilyn Patel granted a preliminary injunction blocking the company from selling its RealDVD software, which lets consumers copy DVDs onto their computers.

As for the future, predicting events is always tricky, especially when those events occur on Capitol Hill. Yet looking ahead to 2010, patent law experts say Congress is finally poised to pass a patent reform bill. "My sense is that the White House has been pushing it," says Stanford University law professor Mark Lemley. "There's a window in early 2010 to get it through."

Like Lemley, John Whealan, an associate dean for IP law at George Washington University, says any reforms will be narrower than once anticipated since the courts have lately addressed standards for obviousness as well as damages issues and other matters that Congress was supposed to tackle. "Patent reform has been going on as we speak," Whealan says. Still, he's optimistic that lawmakers will at least prescribe a new postgrant review system for patents at the PTO and new first-to-file rules for awarding patents (the latter change would put the U.S. in sync with the rest of the world). We'll know soon enough if his optimism was warranted.