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Controversial Patent Reform Act Passes in House; Senate Vote Expected in Coming Weeks

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The Patent Reform Act of 2007, which proposes sweeping and controversial changes to current US patent law and has drawn heavy criticism from the biotech and university communities, passed through the US House of Representatives today, according to the House website.
The final vote tally included 220 (D-160, R-60) in favor of the bill and 175 (D-58, R-117) opposed, with 37 abstaining, according to the website.
As GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication Biotech Transfer Week reported, identical versions of the bill passed the markup stage in both the House and Senate in July. The bill is expected to be voted on in the Senate in the coming weeks.
Since its inception earlier this year, various concerned parties from the university tech-transfer community, the biotech industry, and the information technology industry have been heavily lobbying for their interests in the bill.
In particular, many members of the biotech and university technology transfer community have bemoaned specific elements of the proposed bill such as the possible establishment of a “first-to-file,” as opposed to a “first-to-invent” system; an open-ended, post-grant opposition system; and provisions dealing with apportionment of damages in IP-infringement lawsuits.
Many of those opposed to bill have expressed concerns that the legislation is tailored to meet the needs of the software, IT, high-tech, and financial service industries, and may stifle innovation within the life sciences industry.
Yesterday, President Bush issued a statement supporting most aspects of the patent reform bill, but opposing a key provision that would limit damage awards in patent infringement suits.

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