Ten years ago, Congress passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, a patent reform bill that greatly benefitted the U.S. economy and has helped drive innovation in the technology and information industries. That legislation passed with a broad coalition of support from the technology, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, restaurant and other industries, all of them recognizing that too many poor-quality patents had been issued and that U.S. innovation requires a faster, cheaper, and more accurate way to assess patent claims than expensive litigation. The AIA passed in response to a growing wave of so-called “patent trolling,” in which non-practicing entities would sue businesses like restaurants and retailers on patents that would not survive judicial review, knowing that the cost of the offered settlement was much less than the expense of litigating the patent’s validity. To address this, Congress, on a bipartisan basis, created a system whereby the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) could take a second look at a patent if it believed that the patent should not have issued, at as much as a tenth of the cost of litigating patent validity in court.
Still, in the intervening years, the USPTO has strayed from what Congress intended by refusing to review meritorious challenges. The result has been an uptick in litigation by non-practicing entities. On the tenth anniversary of the AIA’s passage, Senator Leahy announced that he is introducing legislation to restore the original intent of the AIA. The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), which supported the AIA’s passage, heralds Senator Leahy’s introduction of the bill. “It’s incredibly appropriate that this legislation is announced now, and we enthusiastically welcome it,” said Jeff Joseph, President and CEO of SIIA. “The AIA passed on an overwhelming and bipartisan basis, responding to a widespread problem of litigation abuse. In recent years, the PTO abused its regulatory authority and subverted Congress’s intent to address the problem of invalid patents through efficient administrative procedures rather than full-blown federal litigation,” Joseph said. “Senator Leahy’s bill looks to restore what we believe is the Congressional intent, and we support it. We thank Senator Leahy for his decades-long commitment to the health of the U.S. innovation ecosystem.”
For more than 50 years, SIIA has united the information industries. Today, SIIA’s umbrella organization connects more than 450 diverse members who manage the global financial markets, develop software that solves today’s challenges through technology and provide critical information that help inform global businesses of all sizes. As the only professional organization representing Ed Tech, SIIA’s members bridge the gap educating students and the workforce driving innovation and growth.