Patent reform in 2007?

One piece of innovation/competitiveness legislation that will not be finished this year is patent reform. However, as the blog Intellectual Property Watch points out, US Patent Reform: Could 2007 Be The Year?:

US information technology companies’ push to overhaul their country’s patent system made little progress in the US Congress in 2006 due to pushback from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. But the hiring of a trio of well-connected lobbyists with a history in the tort reform movement promises to amplify the debate in 2007.

What they are talking about is the creation earlier this year of the Coalition for Patent Fairness – which has authored an industry consensus white paper.
Much of the current problem revolves around the differences between the pharma/biotech and IT industries. Changes in the law that would help one could make things less attractive for the other. There is the beginning of a discussion on changing that. Today and tomorrow, the University of Michigan Law School is hosting a conference on “Patents and Diversity“:

The current debate over patent reform exposes critical differences in the way that patents are used and viewed in different sectors – especially in the difference between discrete product technologies (pharmaceuticals) and complex product technologies (IT) The present “unitary” patent system is limited in its ability to account for such differences. Yet as the patent system expands in scope and significance, with many billions of dollars at stake, the assumption that one size fits all appears increasingly untenable and costly. This international conference examines the differences among innovation environments, how they are currently addressed, implications of uniform vs. differentiated treatment, and options for optimizing the functioning of the patent system across fields and environments.

The combination of political and academic may provide the horse power to get something done next year.

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