The Last Days of Patent Reform

Last Thursday marked the end of the patent reform effort. The Senate Judiciary Committee decided to pull the patent reform bill off of its agenda. Without a vote in committee, the bill will not move forward.

This marks a devastating and sudden end to a bipartisan and helpful attempt to rebalance the patent system and reduce the abuses in our current system. Patent trolls, as we have clearly documented, – are costing our economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. They are impacting every industry in America, large and small. Look at the businesses, advocacy groups, and innovators who came together on this effort: restaurants, hotels, casinos, grocers, travel agents, developers, the largest and smallest technology companies, retailers… the list goes on. A broad coalition of American businesses needed Congress to act, as only Congress can, to stop the abuse.

Instead, patent trolls have once again succeeded in protecting their multi-billion dollar assault on American businesses and workers.

It’s truly sad too, as patent reform is not a partisan issue. The White House supported reform. The House passed patent reform with enormous bi-partisan support, led by the efforts of Chairman Goodlatte and Congresswoman Lofgren and a large group of Representatives willing to act with integrity and fortitude. On the Senate side, Chairman Leahy courageously led the Senate Judiciary Committee to take on the trolls with hearings and the creation of a useful customer stay provision with the support and help of Senator Lee. Senators Cornyn and Schumer forged a compromise on important aspects of the reform like pleading and discovery. Senator Hatch led an effort to create a critical recovery of fees provision. Ranking Member Grassley also provided tremendous leadership on the committee in driving the reform effort forward. Consensus was building around a balanced and targeted reform that would have restored integrity to our honorable patent system.

But it all ended up being for naught. Patent trolls proved too powerful, once again, in American politics. A few special interests defeated the will and needs of the many. And that’s how this reform effort died.

Adobe will continue the battle against patent trolls, standing up for our customers, and refusing to settle meritless patent lawsuits. We applaud the Supreme Court’s recent decision on fee shifting, as at least one branch of our government has recognized the problem and seen fit to act, within its powers. And, we hope to continue this fight another day. In the interim, investors and hedge funds will continue to pour money into this lucrative business model, and job producing businesses and workers will suffer. And perhaps we will one day reach a tipping point where enough courageous lawmakers are willing to stand up for what is right, and end this abuse of the patent system.

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