Several Universities Oppose Pending ‘Patent Reform’ Legislation

With the U.S. House of Representatives expected to vote this week on a bill to remake the law on patents, technology-transfer leaders at a dozen-plus research universities continued to break ranks with major higher-education associations to oppose the legislation. The opponents, led by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, say the change from a “first to invent” principle to a “first inventor to file” system in the pending America Invents Act would encourage would-be patent owners to file too early on their ideas and curtail collaboration among academics. They also contend that a provision expanding “prior users’ rights” as a defense against patent infringement would undermine scientific progress by giving a “free ride” to parties who claim trade-secret protection for an invention patented by other parties. That provision is part of the House bill but was eliminated in the version of the bill passed by the Senate in March.

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