WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Cotton (R- Ark.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Haw.) today introduced the STRONGER Patents Act to protect and support inventors and innovators and ensure that our patent system protects this essential property right. The STRONGER (Support Technology & Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience) Act is an improvement on the STRONG Patents Act, which Senator Coons introduced during the last Congress.
The STRONGER Patents Act seeks to strengthen the U.S. patent system through implementing measures to make it easier and less costly for patent holders to enforce their patents. This Act is based on legislation that Senator Coons introduced last year with the goal of making the post-issuance proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) more fair and efficient. The key visions of this prior bill remain, and new provisions address recently emergent concerns about these proceedings and the continual weakening of patent rights by the courts.
“Supporting American inventors is not a partisan issue. The value and importance of patents is astounding, contributing over $800 billion in value to the U.S. economy and the source of millions of jobs for Americans. But, we must work together to ensure that the patent laws keep up with the innovators, so their ideas and businesses can fuel the American economy for generations to come. This means working to ensure that a patent continues to play its historic role in enabling inventors and small businesses to get funding and protect their ideas from being copied by larger corporate infringers,” said Senator Coons, author of the STRONGER Patents Act. “It is in our best interest both nationally and globally to ensure that our patent system works for everyone."
“Strong rights in property—whether intellectual or tangible—have been a key driver behind U.S. economic might. Eroding such rights would imperil innovation and job growth, so we need to maintain strong patent protections if we want our economy to grow at full speed,” said Senator Cotton. “I’m glad to see my colleagues from both sides of the aisle understand just how important patent rights are to our future. And I believe this bill will make sure intellectual-property rights are treated with the same respect as all our other rights.”
“America has a proud tradition of fostering some of history’s greatest inventors and innovators—Congress must do everything it can to ensure this continues in the future,” said Senator Durbin. “We must preserve and strengthen the ability of legitimate patent holders to protect their innovations, while taking steps to narrowly target and deter abusive patent troll behavior. This bill strikes that balance.”
"America's patent system drives innovation and fuels long-term economic growth. This is particularly true for the small businesses and entrepreneurs that form the backbone of Hawaii's economy,” said Senator Hirono. “The STRONGER Patents Act supports innovation by restoring balance and improving quality in the patent process, and takes important steps to protect businesses harmed by abuses in patent litigation without placing unnecessary burdens on innovative start-ups, inventors, and universities.”
The STRONGER Patents Act focuses on achieving the following:
· Restoring investor confidence in patents by ensuring that the new administrative reviews at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are balanced and efficient.
· Restoring incentives for parties to reach license agreements without going to court by reestablishing that patents are property rights, enforceable with injunctions.
· Helping universities and small businesses access the patent system, fostering the next generation of breakthrough technologies.
· Ensuring that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has unfettered access to the fees it collects from the users of its services so that it can modernize its technology and issue patents of the highest quality.
Read a section-by-section summary of the bill here.
Read a one-pager on the bill here.
Key changes from last year’s STRONG Patents Act include addressing the problem of repetitive, harassing petitions in the administrative reviews at the USPTO, reducing duplication between these reviews and district court, and providing a new approach to amending patent claims during them. Additionally, the STRONGER Patents Act proposes to restore the presumption of injunctive relief upon a finding that a patent is valid and infringed and addresses other cases in which courts have recently weakened patent rights.