(March 3, 2015)  Mark Leahey, President and CEO of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA), issued a statement regarding the Support Technology and Research for Our Nation’s Growth (STRONG) Patents Act of 2015.  According to the bill, the STRONG Patents Act aims to “strengthen the position of the United States as the world’s leading innovator by amending title 35, United States Code, to protect property rights of the inventors that grow the country’s economy.”  The STRONG Patents Act was introduced by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  According to a press release by Senator Coons:

The STRONG Patents Act would strengthen and combat abuse by:

  • Cracking down on abusive demand letters by empowering the Federal Trade Commission to target firms that abuse startups rather than invent anything;
  • Ensuring that pleading standards for patent-infringement cases match the standards used for all other forms of civil actions, creating a significant barrier to frivolous lawsuits before any funds are spent on discovery;
  • Eliminating fee diversion from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) so we can ensure that those who examine patents have adequate training and dependable funding;
  • Ensuring balance in post-grant proceedings at the PTO, so that this expedited form of patent litigation is both fast and fair; and
  • Analyzing the impact that our patent system has on small businesses, both from the perspective of startups reliant on patents and those small businesses facing allegations of infringement.

According to Mr. Leahey’s statement, the “MDMA applauds the introduction of the ‘STRONG Patents Act’ for its measured approach to address issues facing our nation’s patent system . . . While MDMA supports efforts to deal with patent litigation abuse, we must ensure that any legislation to address this problem does not have the unintended consequences of weakening one’s patent rights. The ‘STRONG Patents Act’ targets the concerns of patent holders to end abusive practices, while establishing balance in post-grant proceedings at the PTO and eliminating fee diversion.” The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) also expressed support for the STRONG Patents Act stating, “BIO supports balanced reforms to reduce abusive patent practices, while maintaining the strong incentives necessary to sustain our nation’s global leadership in biotechnology innovation and the creation of high-wage, high-value jobs throughout our country.  The STRONG Patents Act of 2015 achieves this critical balance.” The STRONG Patents Act provides an alternative vision for the patent system to the Innovation Act submitted in the House by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) last month.