Congress likely to address patent reform after winter holiday

WASHINGTON A staff member for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced last week that the Patent Reform Act would probably go to the Senate floor after Congress returns from the holidays in 2008, the FDA reported.

Matthew Sandgren, counsel to Sen. Hatch, made the announcement at CBI Research’s conference on Effective Patent, Intellectual Property and Trademark Strategies. Although the Senate would like to consider patent reform this year, the legislation will try to pass it before the end of the 110th Congress. Sandgren assured attendees that Hatch has stipulated the bill is for innovators and is aimed at preserving innovation, not hurting the pharmaceutical industry. “This isn’t a generic companies’ bill,” he said.

Before the bill goes to the Senate floor, a few outstanding issues need to be addressed, and lawmakers have been working to negotiate these key provisions, Sandgren said. One issue is post-grant review. The goal of this provision is to establish an administrative procedure for reexamining patents that is cheaper and more efficient than litigation, Sandgren said. The provision allows a party to initiate a review of a patent within a year of its issuance and, under the Senate version, after 12 months with certain restrictions. The House version of the bill eliminated this so-called second window for initiating a review.

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