A group of 144 universities has warned the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees that pending legislation on patent litigation abuses is too broad and could actually weaken the nation’s patent system and restrict the flow of technologies from universities to the marketplace.
In a letter to committee leaders, the universities claim the legislation would make it more difficult and expensive for all patent holders, including universities, to defend their patent rights. While the legislation is aimed at stopping patent “trolls” who take advantage of the system to sue and collect damages for infringement, the letter argues that the legislation goes too far and would restrict even rightful patent owners from protecting their intellectual property.
“American universities and associated technology transfer foundations and organizations stand ready to work with you to address the patent litigation abuses we all agree are a problem,” the letter reads. “We are deeply concerned, however, that much of the patent legislation currently being discussed in Congress, including the Innovation Act, H.R.9, goes well beyond what is needed to address the bad actions of a small number of patent holders.”
The universities said they would support patent legislation that is “targeted, measured and carefully calibrated to safeguard this nation’s global leadership in innovation.” The group also says it is hopeful that committee members will consider a number of recent judicial and administrative actions that have already led to a significant reduction in patent litigation.
Most of the participating universities are members of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and/or the Association of American Universities.
“University technology transfer provides a rich return on both public and private funding for basic research in the form of countless innovative products and services that today benefit the public, create jobs and contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and global technological leadership,” the letter says. “It depends on a robust patent system that provides strong protection for inventions, enabling universities to license these patented inventions to private sector enterprises to create socially beneficial products and services.”