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Senate Patent Bill Gets White House Plaudits

Cornyn, Schumer and Leahy huddle before a news conference to tout the patent bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama wants to see a bipartisan patent overhaul reach his desk before the end of 2015, and the White House is responding favorably to the new Senate bill introduced this week.  

"The Administration applauds the introduction of balanced, bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would strengthen and modernize our nation's patent laws," Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call. "The Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship (PATENT) Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of members, represents an important step toward answering the President's call for common-sense legislation that will help deter abusive conduct and promote an efficient and strong patent system."  

The measure, which was presented Wednesday , is the work-product of a large group of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who ranks third in his party's leadership.  

Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who led off the news conference to introduce the legislation to combat patent trolls earlier this week, has scheduled a hearing on the topic for May 7. Grassley has indicated he plans to move expeditiously to get the bill through the committee and in the queue for potential floor consideration, where it could be a bipartisan success story.  

"This legislation builds upon the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), signed into law by President Obama in 2011, which helped make our patent system more efficient and responsive to innovators," Earnest said. "As the President stated in 2013, however, we need to 'pull together additional stakeholders and see if we can build some additional consensus on smarter patent laws' that help prevent abuses of the system. The Administration looks forward to continuing its work with the bill's sponsors and other leaders in the House and Senate on this important economic issue, and urges Congress to get a bill to his desk this year."  

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy led that update of patent law in the Senate, which came when the Vermont Democrat served as Judiciary chairman. Now the ranking member in a GOP-led Senate, Leahy is also among the group backing the new bill.  

The kind words from the White House should come as no surprise, as Obama himself has called for overhauling the outdated patent system, and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker applauded the effort on Wednesday.  

"Protecting America's intellectual property is a key part of the Commerce Department’s mission to foster the conditions for economic growth. As Secretary of Commerce, I strongly support targeted and balanced legislation that will strengthen our patent system while also ensuring the system works effectively to address abuses and inefficiencies — just the sort of legislation that Senators Grassley, Leahy, Schumer, Cornyn, Hatch, Lee, and Klobuchar have introduced today," she said in a statement. "Our country must protect one of its most valuable resources – the ideas, intellectual property and cutting edge discoveries of our entrepreneurs and businesses. Such protection is fundamental to the growth of our economy and I look forward to working with Congress to ensure this meaningful and effective patent reform legislation is enacted into law."  

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