05.19.06

Issa and Schiff Introduce Legislation to Improve Patent Litigation in the District Courts

Washington, DC – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), today, announced the introduction of H.R. 5418, a bill to create a pilot program to enhance the expertise of district court judges hearing patent cases.  The bill will establish a pilot project in at least five district courts where judges will have the choice of opting-in to the new program to hear patent cases.  Each of the test courts will be assigned a clerk with expertise in patent law or with the technical issues arising in patent cases.  The bill will also allocate funding to provide educational opportunities for judges who opt-in to the program. 

“Roughly forty percent of all patent cases in federal district courts are reversed and ultimately decided by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Rep. Issa.  “This legislation is designed to help courts reduce errors that lead to appeals.”

“Patent litigation in the federal court system has become expensive, time-consuming, and uncertain,” Schiff said.  “By providing our courts with the resources they need to carefully consider patent cases, we will ease the work load for our Federal Appeals Courts, which will ultimately save the American taxpayer money.”

Under the legislation, if a judge opts-in to the new program and a patent case is randomly assigned to that judge, that judge keeps the case.  When a case is randomly assigned to a judge in a district with the pilot program who has not opted to hear patent cases, that judge has the choice of keeping the case or referring the case to the group of judges who have opted-in to the program.

The core intent of the pilot program is to steer patent cases to judges that have the desire and aptitude to hear patent cases, while preserving the principle of random assignment to help avoid forum shopping.  The pilot project will last no longer than 10 years, and periodic studies will occur to determine the pilot project’s success.

“Prior to coming to Congress, I was part of a number of patent suits.  I was often struck by the fact that many district court judges either knew little of the applicable law, or were bored by the subject matter involved,” said Issa.  “Patent litigation often costs litigants over $10 million and can inject crippling uncertainty into a business.  This legislation will help courts and help businesses and individual inventors who patent ideas.”

H.R. 5418 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property on which Rep. Issa and Rep. Schiff sit.

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