US goes back to work on patent reform

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US goes back to work on patent reform

The US government is once again considering a sweeping reform of the nation's patent system.

A Senate bill known as the Patent Reform Act of 2009 (PDF) would overhaul parts of the patent process, particularly the way in which damages and licensing costs for patent holders are calculated.

Congress attempted to pass a similar measure in 2007 to change the patent system and reduce the number of lawsuits filed in disputes.

The measure did not gain widespread traction, and was abandoned in 2008.

But it is of particular importance to the IT industry, where many firms claim that individuals and companies deliberately file vague or inaccurate patent suits in an attempt to make easy money.

A number of major Silicon Valley companies, including Google and HP, have spoken up on behalf of the effort to reform the patent system in recent years.

Michael Holsten, HP's executive vice president and general counsel, said that his company is granted an average of four patents a day, and is constantly targeted by lawsuits over alleged infringements.

"Reforming the patent system will reduce costly litigation and free up valuable resources for research and development," said Holsten.

"We encourage Congress to pass patent reform legislation this year so that innovators and businesses can aid the process of economic recovery."

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