Those with a keen eye trained on the patent reform bill now under consideration in the House of Representatives might universally hold a dim view of fee diversion even if they see first-to-file and the prior user defense through profoundly different lenses. The problem is that the manager's mark for H.R. 1249 as of June 20 includes language that will put the fees paid by patent, trademark and copyright applicants right back into the hands of appropriators, who will have a tough time avoiding the urge to raid the cookie jar in a fiscal environment in which cookies are increasingly scarce.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expecting a vote this week on its patent reform bill, but unlike passage of the Senate bill, the House bill has to deal with a potentially crippling conflict. This conflict was set up by the provision dealing with fees collected by the Patent and Trademark Office, which is on a collision course with the budget-cutting mood in the House. Another difference between the two bills is the inclusion of the prior user defense in the House bill, but I'm going to propose that the real question here is not whether the House and Senate can pave over those differences. The real question is whether Congress spent too much time playing with this set of issues and in the process made itself almost entirely irrelevant where patent law is concerned.
Last week, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed; Washington) put on its Superman cape and unveiled a set of policy recommendations that it hopes will preserve America's position as a leader in medical technology innovation.