Subcommittee to Tackle 101?

Late last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced the formation of an Intellectual Property (IP) Subcommittee. The Senate Judiciary has not had an active IP Subcommittee for decades (unlike the House).

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) were announced as Chairman and Ranking Member of the IP Subcommittee. You may remember these same senators conducting a closed-door meeting with larger stakeholders (Tech and Bio/Pharma) last December on the topic of patent subject matter eligibility (35 U.S.C. § 101). On the heels of the USPTO’s revised patent eligibility guidelines, it appears that the stars may finally be aligning for meaningful 101 reform.

The jurisdiction of the IP Subcommittee includes the USPTO, Copyright Office, and oversight of the functions of the federal government as they relate to intellectual property. In their press releases both Senator Coons and Tillis emphasized the “confusion among innovators and inventors about what is even patentable” and how such confusion is causing our nation’s economy to lose billions of dollars annually and threaten our country’s long-term technological dominance.”

The Senate Judiciary’s new IP Subcommittee appears primed to propose targeted 101 reform in the near term.