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Patent Reform Moves to Senate

Passed by the US House of Representatives on Sept. 7, H.R. 1908: the Patent Reform Act of 2007, limits damages to the actual value of the infringed technology, not the entire product containing the contested patent as well as limiting the definition of willful infringement, which can bring treble damages. The ink was barely dry on this patent reform bill when speculation began over the fate of the legislation in the Senate, where stiff opposition awaits key provisions long sought by the technology sector. As Roger Cochetti, group director of U.S. public policy at CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association), told eWEEK on Sept. 4, "The showdown will be in the Senate."

With the Senate very tentatively set to debate the bill in late October, opponents have at least six weeks to mount their campaign to change the language in the House legislation, including the linchpin provisions most sought by tech: limiting damages in infringement lawsuits. "[The bill] prohibits excessive damage awards," Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, said during Friday's floor debate. "Believe it or not, there is no current requirement that damage awards in patent cases be limited to the value the patent added to the overall product. The courts have created a virtual free-for-all in this area."

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