Legislation Enhancing Patent Expertise in Federal Courts Headed to President's Desk

WASHINGTON. D.C. – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) today applauded House passage H.R. 628, legislation creating a pilot program to enhance the expertise of district court judges hearing patent cases.  The legislation has already been approved by the Senate and last night’s unanimous consent agreement sends the legislation to the desk of President Barack Obama.

The legislation will establish a pilot project in at least six district courts where judges will have the choice of opting-in to the new program to hear patent cases.  

"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 did not understand the technology involved," said Issa.  "Patent litigation often costs litigants over $10 million and can inject crippling uncertainty into a business.  This legislation launches a 10 year program to support efforts of courts to help businesses and individual inventors who patent ideas."

“As the home to the most creative, inventive and entrepreneurial people in the world, it is important that we support an economic environment that encourages innovation,” Schiff said.  “Obtaining and protecting intellectual property rights is increasingly becoming a strategic necessity for individuals and businesses throughout the nation. This important legislation will raise the level of expertise in patent litigation, improve the reliability of patents, and allow businesses to spend more time inventing and less time litigating, which could reduce the cost to consumers on everything from promising new medicines to the latest cell phones.” 

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.  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 pilot project will last no longer than 10 years, and studies will occur to determine the pilot project’s success. 

The Patent Pilot bill was originally introduced by Rep. Issa and Rep. Schiff in 2006. It was passed by the House of Representatives in both the 109th and 110th Congresses.