IT Groups Push For Patent Reform - InformationWeek

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7/12/2007
04:53 PM
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IT Groups Push For Patent Reform

CompTIA said Thursday that many of its members are hamstrung by patent litigation and consumers around the world suffer for it.

The Computing Technology Industry Association is lobbying the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the Patent Reform Act of 2007.

CompTIA said Thursday that many of its members are hamstrung by patent litigation and consumers around the world suffer for it. "The deleterious effects reach well beyond each specific patent dispute," the group said in a statement.

CompTIA said its smaller members -- value-added resellers who sell, service, and maintain information technology produced by larger companies " need a steady supply of IT innovation for small businesses and homes.

"Yet they, and the consumers who purchase their products and services, represent the unwitting victims in this costly game of patent system arbitrage" CompTIA said. "The IT industry needs the protection offered by patents to keep developing world-leading IT products, but the system cries out for reform. By clarifying apportionment of damage awards, establishing fair standards for punitive damages, restricting forum shopping, and improving patent quality the entire ecology of the IT industry will better prosper."

CompTIA boasts more than 22,000 member companies in more than 100 countries. The group's mission is to support long-term success and growth of IT.

Patent reform has been high on the group's policy agenda this year and it spoke in favor of reform proposals during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the subject earlier this year. Lawmakers in both parties and houses are considering patent reform legislation.

The Coalition for Patent Fairness -- which includes Apple and Microsoft -- also is backing the patent reform proposal. The act, introduced in the Senate, would allow damages to be based on the patent's contribution to the value of a complete product (not just one of many components). It would award triple damages for willful infringement and allow U.S. Patent and Trademark Office experts to review patents they approved if someone disputes the approval.

Several biotech companies oppose the legislation, saying it would create uncertainty and weaken enforceability by changing the way damages could be awarded, while altering the post-grant opposition system and the PTO's rulemaking authority.

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