Patent Reform: Issues in the Biomedical and Software Industries [April 7, 2006]   [open pdf - 69KB]

From the Summary: "Congress currently is considering reform of the existing patent system. This interest in patent policy reflects a recognition of the increasing importance of intellectual property to U.S. innovation. Patent ownership is perceived as an incentive to the technological advancement that leads to economic growth. As such, the number of patent applications and grants has grown significantly, as have the type and breadth of inventions that can be patented. Along with the expansion in the number and range of patents, there are growing concerns over whether the current system is working efficiently and effectively. Several recent studies recommend patent reform. Other experts maintain that major alterations in existing law are unnecessary and that, while not perfect, the patent process can, and is, adapting to technological progress. Thus far in the 109th Congress, two bills, H.R. 2795 and H.R. 5096, have been introduced which, if enacted, would make significant alterations in current patent law. At the present time, the patent laws provide a system under which all inventions are subject to the same requirements of patentability regardless of the technical field in which they arose. However, inventors and innovative companies in different industries tend not to hold identical views concerning the importance of patents, reflecting varying experiences with the patent system. Innovators in biomedical industries tend to see patent protection as critically important as a way to prohibit competitors from appropriating the results of a company's research and development efforts. Typically only a few, often one or two, patents cover a particular drug. In contrast, the nature of software development is such that inventions often are cumulative and new products generally embody numerous patentable inventions. As a result, it may be expected that distinct industries might react differently to the various patent reform proposals currently under consideration by Congress. This report will be updated if events warrant such action."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33367
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