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Tillis, Coons to Hold New Huddles on Patent Eligibility Proposal (1)

Aug. 19, 2019, 4:43 PMUpdated: Aug. 19, 2019, 7:39 PM

Sens. Thom Tillis and Chris Coons have summoned stakeholders to a fresh round of closed-door meetings on a revised proposal to rewrite patent eligibility law.

Tillis (R-N.C.) and Coons (D-Del.) have scheduled two meetings, for Aug. 20 and 21, according to sources familiar with the effort.

The draft proposal could undo several U.S. Supreme Court decisions on what inventions deserve patent protection. The rulings have left the law poorly defined, and made it harder for companies to win patents and raise venture capital, attorneys and some trade groups say.

Participants will be given 30 minutes to review the new draft, but must leave the document and any notes behind at the end of the meeting, according to an invitation obtained by Bloomberg Law.

The participants will discuss revisions made after three patent eligibility hearings held in June by Tillis, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s intellectual property subcommittee, and Coons, the subcommittee’s ranking member, the email said. The pair last floated a proposal in May.

A spokesperson for Tillis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Coons’ staff continues to meet with stakeholders and legal experts to discuss changes to patent law, including Section 101, which defines patent eligibility, Sean Coit, a Coons spokesman, said.

“We have not yet finalized any further draft bill language,” Coit said.

Representatives from trade groups, technology and pharmaceutical companies or legal associations will likely attend the meetings, the sources said. Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Qualcomm Inc., Genetech Inc., pharmaceutical industry group PhRMA, and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, among others, were invited to earlier meetings.

Spokespeople for Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Steven Stivers (R-Ohio), who are working with Tillis and Coons on the revamp, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawmakers and their aides have been meeting with industry representatives and others since December 2018 about how to rewrite the law in light of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and personalized medicine.

Technology, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry representatives, and other supporters of a patent eligibility law update have lauded the proposed changes as a way to boost innovation.

Opponents, such as the High Tech Inventors Alliance, which represents Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Amazon.com Inc., have asked lawmakers to preserve the existing eligibility test.

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington at mnayak@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com