If newly proposed patent legislation becomes law, Microsoft might have to lay off or fire a bunch of lawyers. On Friday, the House passed H.R. 1908, the Patent Reform Act of 2007, setting the stage for major changes in how patents are granted and the limits of infringement. Reform could greatly benefit Microsoft. The Senate has to craft its version, while the White House has raised concerns about ways the bill would change how damages are assessed. The current version is winning praise from the high-tech industry, with Microsoft being one of the bill's cheerleaders.
"Microsoft supports a balanced, effective patent system that drives innovation, opportunity and growth for both inventors and users of technology," said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, in a statement issued on Friday. "It is Microsoft's hope that the Senate will follow the House's lead by adopting a bill that stimulates innovation by protecting intellectual property in a strong but balanced manner," Smith emphasized