WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, and Representative Doug Collins (R-GA-9), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, Hank Johnson (D-GA-4), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and the Courts, and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) released a bipartisan, bicameral draft bill that would reform Section 101 of the Patent Act.
The draft bill text comes after Senators Tillis and Coons revived the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and follows feedback from dozens of stakeholders, industry representatives, and individual inventors after releasing a framework in April. The proposal was released in advance of the final roundtable the Senators and Representatives are holding on Thursday and is intended to solicit feedback. For that reason, the language contained in the draft bill text is not final and is subject to additional revision.
Additionally, Senators Tillis and Coons plan on holding Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property hearings on June 4, 5 and 11 regarding the state of patent eligibility in the United States. The purpose of these three hearings is to solicit additional stakeholder feedback and to hear from a diverse set of witnesses on the problems different industries are facing with our nation’s patent eligibility laws. Each hearing will feature three panels of five witnesses each, for a total of forty-five witnesses over three days.
“I want to thank my congressional colleagues for all of their hard work on this important issue,” said Senator Tillis. “The release of this draft bill text comes after months of discussions with interested stakeholders. We believe this draft framework represents a true balance that will restore integrity, predictability, and stability to our nation’s patent system, while also preventing the issuance of overly broad patents. We look forward to feedback on this draft bill text and to holding public hearings to further discuss the state of patent eligibility in the United States.”
“I appreciate the collaborative efforts of colleagues in both the Senate and the House, as well as the ongoing engagement of stakeholders, as we work to make needed improvements to the U.S. patent system,” said Senator Coons. “The United States is the most innovative country on the planet. Strengthening our intellectual property laws to encourage and reward research and innovation is critical to our leadership in developing cutting-edge technologies and safeguarding our national security. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and stakeholders as we finalize legislation.”
“American innovation leads the world and drives our economy. Unfortunately, bad actors like China are stealing our intellectual property and threatening our preeminence with their own massive investment in research and development in critical areas of technology. We must reform the patent system to ensure our nation remains number one in innovation,” said Ranking Member Collins. “I appreciate the partnership of Senators Tillis and Coons and Representatives Johnson and Stivers as we work to encourage research that produces life-saving technologies. I look forward to continue engaging stakeholders to address any concerns with this draft legislation.”
“Section 101 of the Patent Act is foundational to the patent system, but recent court cases have upset what should be solid ground. That’s why I’ve been pleased to work with my colleagues—Senators Tillis and Coons; Representatives Collins and Stivers— on this effort to restore predictability and stability to the patent eligible subject matter inquiry that will ensure that the patent system is available to incentivize innovation in key areas of our economy,” said Rep. Johnson. “The draft language released today represents an important step in the process, the result of extensive consultation with stakeholders from a wide range of industries and perspectives. I look forward to continuing to receive feedback as we in the House of Representatives undertake our review of this important issue,” said Congressman Hank Johnson, who serves as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, IP and the Internet.”
“Every day in my home state of Ohio, leaders in the fields of biologics research and diagnostics invest their time to discover lifesaving cures. American startups in these and every industry revolutionize technology usage and have the opportunity to propel our society forward with innovative discoveries and products, but we must work to protect these innovators with the ability to secure a patent that rewards their risk and investment.” said Rep. Stivers. “Following months of discussions with my colleagues and stakeholders, this bipartisan discussion draft shows our commitment to reforms that unleash our nation’s game-changing innovation, instead of stifling it. This draft proposes crucial steps to reform our patent laws to better reflect the twenty-first century’s rapidly evolving scientific and technological advancements.”
The draft bill text released by Tillis, Coons, Collins, Johnson, and Stivers makes the following changes:
(k) The term “useful” means any invention or discovery that provides specific and practical utility in any field of technology through human intervention.
(a) Whoever invents or discovers any useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.
(b) Eligibility under this section shall be determined only while considering the claimed invention as a whole, without discounting or disregarding any claim limitation.
(f) Functional Claim Elements — An element in a claim expressed as a specified function without the recital of structure, material, or acts in support thereof shall be construed to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification and equivalents thereof.
Additional Legislative Provisions:
- The provisions of section 101 shall be construed in favor of eligibility.
- No implicit or other judicially created exceptions to subject matter eligibility, including “abstract ideas,” “laws of nature,” or “natural phenomena,” shall be used to determine patent eligibility under section 101, and all cases establishing or interpreting those exceptions to eligibility are hereby abrogated.
- The eligibility of a claimed invention under section 101 shall be determined without regard to: the manner in which the claimed invention was made; whether individual limitations of a claim are well known, conventional or routine; the state of the art at the time of the invention; or any other considerations relating to sections 102, 103, or 112 of this title.
To view the draft bill text, click HERE.
Tillis, Coons, Collins, Johnson, and Stivers continue to solicit feedback on the proposal and encourage stakeholders to email IntellectualProperty@tillis.senate.gov.