On 18 July, the Bill passed a long-awaited House reading at full Committee stage, then cleared a similar, Senate Committee reading with ease the following day.
These milestones have won acclaim from two key patent organisations. Jonathan Yarowsky, counsel for the Coalition for Patent Fairness, said that the House mark-up ‘demonstrates Congress’ seriousness in dealing with the overwhelming need for balanced and comprehensive reform.’ He added that the Bill’s supporters, including Democrat Representative, Howard Berman, ‘have clearly demonstrated that they are leaders on patent reform. We look forward to working with all members for swift passage on the House floor.’ Business Software Alliance (BSA) president, Robert Holleyman, said: ‘The software industry is pleased by the Senate and House Judiciary Committees’ action and the continuing progress of this legislation, which is essential to future innovation and prosperity in America.’
However, the Bill’s momentum – which has left little time for amendments – has alarmed those who question its bias to software and finance firms. Kevin Kearns, president of the US Business and Industry Council, told the Baltimore Sun: ‘At the recent Senate hearing, not a single manufacturing firm was invited to testify – even though technological innovation and industrial advancement are closely intertwined. Indeed, US manufacturers undertake 60% to 70% of the nation's research and development and hold 60% of its patents.
‘Lawyers, bankers and leading high-tech firms … dominated the hearing on patent reform. However, smaller enterprises are the true drivers of innovation. About one-third of all patent applications are made by independent inventors, small manufacturers, universities and nonprofit research groups. Their efforts are crucial for leading-edge scientific advances, and their views should be heard.’
Now it is out of Committee stage and has become a mainstream piece of legislation, the Bill will go for a full vote before the House. At present, this vote is unscheduled.