WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced thePatent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2023, bipartisan legislation that will restore patent eligibility to important inventions across many fields, while also resolving legitimate concerns over the patenting of mere ideas, the mere discovery of what already exists in nature, and social and cultural content that everyone agrees is beyond the scope of the patent system. This bill affirms the basic principle that the patent system is central to promoting technology-based innovation.
“I have long said that clear, strong, and predictable patent rights are imperative to enable investments in the broad array of innovative technologies that are critical to the economic and global competitiveness of the United States, and to its national security,” said Senator Tillis. “Unfortunately, our current Supreme Court’s patent eligibility jurisprudence is undermining American innovation and allowing foreign adversaries like China to overtake us in key technology innovations. This bipartisan legislation with Senator Coons maintains the existing statutory categories of eligible subject matter, which have worked well for over two centuries, and addresses concerns regarding inappropriate eligibility constraints by enumerating a specific but extensive list of excluded subject matter. I look forward to continuing to work with all interested stakeholders on this important matter. Passing patent eligibility reform remains one of my top legislative priorities during my second term.”
“More than a decade after the Supreme Court waded into patent eligibility law, uncertainty remains about what areas of innovation are eligible for patent protection. Critical technologies like medical diagnostics and artificial intelligence can be protected with patents in Europe and China, but not in the United States,”said Senator Coons. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly failed to clarify the law, so Congress must act. I’m proud to join Senator Tillis’ bill that would reform patent eligibility law to bring vital clarity for inventors and innovators and ensure the United States maintains its competitive edge. I look forward to working with all stakeholders as we move this bill in Congress to restore confidence in our patent system.”
"C4IP applauds Senators Tillis and Coons for introducing critically important legislation to correct patentable eligibility law. The Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2023 is much needed legislation to foster the development of next-generation technologies across many innovative industries, including artificial intelligence, medical diagnostics, quantum computing, and telecommunications, to name a few. With products in these sectors currently categorically ineligible for patent protection, the United States is losing its standing as the world’s innovation leader. By introducing this legislation, Senators Tillis and Coons are standing up for American inventors and ingenuity, and are positioning the United States to continue its leadership in these technologies of the future." - Council for Innovation Promotion (C4IP) Co-Chairs and former USPTO Directors Andrei Iancu and David Kappos
“NCBIO thanks Senator Tillis for reintroducing the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2023, which restores the confidence in our nation’s patent laws by bringing much needed clarity to Section 101 of the Patent Act. Confidence that the life sciences industry needs to robustly invest in the future of medicine. For too long, fields like diagnostics, precision medicine, cell and gene therapy, RNA medicine, and digital health have been threatened by unclear and uncertain patent-eligibility standards that put America’s innovators at a disadvantage, and that discourage local investment. Through this legislation, our members—which include leading innovators who operate cutting-edge gene therapy manufacturing facilities here in North Carolina —will be able to continue to take the bold risks and make the high levels of investment necessary to take fields like these to their next level, with the confidence that our patent laws will continue to hold up through future waves of technological progress.” – NCBIO
Unfortunately, due to a series of Supreme Court decisions, patent eligibility law in the United States has become confused, constricted, and unclear in recent years. This has led to inconsistent case decisions, uncertainty in innovation and investment communities, and unpredictable business outcomes. This has resulted in a wide range of well-documented negative impacts.
As of 2021, all 12 judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have lamented the state of the law. Witnesses and stakeholders from a wide array of industries, fields, interest groups, and academia have testified and submitted comments confirming the uncertainty and detailing the detrimental effects of patent eligibility confusion in the United States. And there is now widespread bipartisan agreement in Congress and across all recent Administrations that reforms are necessary to restore the United States to a position of global strength and leadership in key areas of technology and innovation, such as medical diagnostics, biotechnology, personalized medicine, artificial intelligence, 5G, and blockchain.
The Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2023 achieves this critical goal by restoring patent eligibility to important inventions across many fields, while also resolving legitimate concerns over patenting of mere ideas, the mere discovery of what already exists in nature, and social and cultural content that everyone agrees is beyond the scope of the patent system, which is a system aimed at promoting technology-based innovation.
As a general approach, the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2023 maintains the existing statutory categories of eligible subject matter, which have worked well for over two centuries, and addresses concerns regarding inappropriate eligibility constraints by enumerating a specific but extensive list of excluded subject matter.
Read text of the legislation here.