On July 18, 2007, the House judiciary committee approved H.R. 1908, the Patent Reform Act of 2007. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a similar measure on July 19 (S. 1145). The newest version of the House bill eliminates a proposed new avenue to challenge patents present in the Senate bill. The House bill also introduces options that would let judges limit potential damage payments. These changes appear to be partly due to the influence of several key interest groups, including biotech and high tech companies. The industry has spilt into three major groups based on their view on the proposed changes. The first one, composed of large technology firms who are frequently targeted for patent infringement, has been in favour of patent reform. The second one, made up of smaller technology firms whose revenues rely heavily on patent licensing, is opposed to the reforms. The third one, made up of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies who tend to rely on single patents for their goods, is generally opposed to the reforms to the extent that they include procedures (such as post grant review) that could weaken patents and reduce funding for their products. Both the House and the Senate bills could be up for a full vote by the House and Senate before Congress breaks for recess in August.
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