The STRONGER (Support Technology & Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience) Patents Act of 2017 was recently introduced in the Senate by a bipartisan group led by Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) and co-sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Haw.). According to a press release by Senator Coons, “[t]he STRONGER Patents Act seeks to strengthen the U.S. Patent system through implementing measures to make it easier and less costly for patent holders to enforce their patents.” The “Act is based on legislation that Senator Coons introduced last year with the goal of making the post-issuance proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) more fair and efficient.” The bill asserts that “unintended consequences of the [AIA] are continuing to become evident, including the strategic filing of post-grant review proceedings to depress stock prices and extort settlements, the filing of repetitive petitions for inter partes and post-grant reviews that have the effect of harassing patent owners, and the unnecessary duplication of work by the district courts of the United States and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.”

The following table illustrates several key changes proposed by the STRONGER Patents Act compared to the current PTAB practice under the AIA.

Click here to view the table. 

The STRONGER Patents Act has been favorably received by several industry groups including the Medical Device Manufactures Association (MDMA), which issued the following statement:

MDMA applauds the bipartisan work of Senators Chris Coons, Tom Cotton, Dick Durbin and Mazie Hirono for devising legislation that thwarts frivolous patent lawsuits while leveling the playing field for inventors. The ‘STRONGER Patents Act’ provides a balanced, targeted approach to end abuse, support innovation and spur the lifesaving cures and therapies that patients and providers desperately need.

MDMA has always supported targeted efforts to deal with patent litigation abuse, and the ‘STRONGER Patents Act’ will address this problem while not having the unintended consequences of weakening one’s intellectual property rights. We look forward to working with Congress and all policy makers to help ensure that America’s innovation ecosystem remains the envy of the world.”

Practitioners and corporations frequently appearing before the PTAB will be interested in how this bill progresses through Congress as the outcome of this legislation will likely have a significant impact on PTAB practice.