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July 19, 2007

Techs vs. biotechs on patent reform

Posted by Angel Gonzalez at 1:42 PM

Both the computer industry and the biotechnology industry want new laws that would streamline the patenting process and help spur innovation. But what's good for the one is not good for the other, it seems.

The computer industry pushed hard for the major overhaul the House Judiciary Committee passed Wednesday, which limits damages during patent infringement lawsuits.

The Coalition for Patent Fairness, which represents technology companies ranging from Microsoft to Apple, says the current system allows "baseless" patent claims that can cost millions in legal bills "and can coerce large settlements that cost upwards of $100 million," deterring innovation.

Biotech companies oppose these damage limitations, as they live in perpetual fear of generic drug makers, which can cheaply copy drugs that take decades to develop and billions of dollars to market.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization, which groups most biotech companies, said in a statement that "the bill, as it currently stands, threatens continued biotech innovation."

A Congressional Research Service report from last year goes into the details of how patent reform would affect the different industries. The full House now has to consider the matter, and the Senate Judiciary Committee is debating similar legislation, according to this AP story.

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Tricia Duryee
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