Judiciary Committee Approves Issa/Schiff Legislation to Improve Patent Litigation in District Courts

Washington, DC – The House Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved 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 while maintaining random assignment.  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. 

“This proposed pilot project to help courts better adjudicate patent cases has garnered strong support from those in the patent community and unanimous support from Members of Congress who have considered its merits,” said Rep. Darrell Issa.  “The support behind this legislation and should result in expedited approval on the floor of the House and the Senate.”

“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.