SIIA Voices Strong Support for House and Senate Action on Patent Reform

SIIA supports the action in both the House and Senate to advance patent reform.  On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee marked-up and approved legislation by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), while Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced patent reform legislation in the Senate.

The overwhelming vote in the House Judiciary Committee to approve patent legislation demonstrates that there is significant bi-partisan momentum for reform.  With American jobs, innovation and economic growth on the line, members of Congress clearly recognize that action is needed.  It’s now critical that we build on this progress, continue to improve the legislation and move swiftly to enact into law patent reforms that support innovators and job creators.

This week, the effort to stop the damaging impact of patent trolls got another boost with the introduction of [Chairman] Leahy’s Patent Transparency and Improvement Act  (PTIA) of 2013.  The legislation takes a number of important steps to address the problem of patent litigation abuse, such as requiring more specificity in demand letters, disclosure of the actual financial backers involved in patent litigation, and helping manufacturers obtain stays on behalf of their customers.  Coupled with other measures, this bill will help restore accountability and balance to the patent litigation system.

To address the patent troll problem effectively, SIIA believes that two-way fee shifting, with bonding, is necessary to change the economic incentives that currently fuel abusive patent litigation. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have introduced fee-shifting legislation that complements Chairman Leahy’s bill, and we hope all three bills can move forward in a coordinated fashion.  SIIA commends Chairman Leahy for his leadership and we look forward to working with him toward a pre-markup amendment that brings fee-shifting legislation to his bill.

Ken WaschKen Wasch is President of SIIA. Follow the SIIA Software team on twitter at @SIIASoftware.

SIIA Supports the SOFTWARE Act, Says Legislation is Critical to Promoting Medical Safety while Advancing Innovative Software

Patient safety and product innovation are not mutually exclusive.  SIIA supports the SOFTWARE Act, bipartisan legislation introduced Tuesday that establishes an effective regulatory framework for medical software that will promote safety while advancing innovation. New information technology products and services powered by software promise to revolutionize health outcomes and lower costs for patients and providers.  However, an overly-broad regulatory framework that sweeps in a wide range of software would drastically stifle this innovation.

The SOFTWARE Act takes necessary steps to establish regulatory framework for medical software without compromising safety.  Specifically, the SOFTWARE Act would create a bright line that delineates when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should regulate medical software, and when it should not, calling for FDA regulation of software only when it has the ability to change the end user’s current state of physiology with limited or no opportunity for informed human intervention.

SIIA thanks Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Gene Green (D-TX), Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Greg Walden (R-OR), and G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), and we look forward to working with them and other cosponsors to advance this critical legislation.

Ken WaschKen Wasch is President of SIIA. Follow the SIIA Software team on twitter at @SIIASoftware.

House and Senate Committee leaders give positive signals on key tech policy issues

Last week, House Judiciary Sbcmte. Chair for IP, Competition and the Internet Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) made his priorities public. No real surprises, but it served as official confirmation that patent reform, copyright enforcement and net neutrality are at the top of the list. Not wasting any time, the Subcommittee will hold its first hearing on Patent Reform this Wednesday. Indeed, the new Committee structure instituted by new Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) was intended to grant a substantially greater focus on IP protection and Internet issues. As a founding leader of the Congressional Internet Caucus, Chairman Goodlatte is just the guy to champion many of these key issues to the benefit of innovation, e-commerce and job growth.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Cmte. priority list looks similar, with Chairman Leahy (D-VT) recently highlighting his priorities to include an even broader slate, adding revision of the electronic communications privacy (ECPA) law and wiretapping (CALEA) to patent reform and combating online copyright infringement and counterfeiting (COICA). In fact, the Senate Cmte. is moving even faster than its House counterpart by moving to consider draft patent reform legislation this Thursday.

Of course, we already knew that privacy would be on the front burner in the House and Senate Commerce Committees. That’s continuing to take shape as well. Recent reports continue to indicate that Sen. Kerry (D-MA) will lead on this, with hearings likely in mid-February and his draft legislation on the issue likely to be introduced in the near future. Importantly, Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Chair of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, on Thursday sent a letter to her colleagues confirming her commitment to “work diligently” on the issue of privacy “both online and offline,” while also reiterating the complexity of the issue and her commitment to provide for “careful consideration and not ‘knee-jerk’ solutions.” Amen!

In all, while there are many issues Republicans and Democrats radically disagree on, some of these technology issues, like Patent reform and IP protection could possibly be in the right place, at the right time. Stay tuned.

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