The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a long-time critic of over-broad technology patents, sent out an email blast Monday morning, calling on supporters to contact lawmakers in support of the bill. "The Innovation Act is the best bill yet that stops patent trolls, bad actors who use intimidation and lawsuits to shake down inventors, small companies, and startups," the email said. "That's why thousands of concerned individuals, companies, and organizations have joined us in supporting this bill. Now is the time for meaningful patent reform."
President Barack Obama's administration also voiced support for the bill Monday. "The bill would improve incentives for future innovation while protecting the overall integrity of the patent system," the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.
But critics of the bill said Monday that the House Judiciary Committee has rushed the bill to the House floor. The bill needs fine-tuning, said David Kappos, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
A provision to allow manufacturers to intercede in lawsuits targeting end users of an allegedly patented technology would "damage" the U.S. patent system, Kappos said. The provision is a "well intentioned" effort to protect end users against questionable patent lawsuits, but the wording of the provision needs work, he said.
Todd Dickinson, another former USPTO director who's now executive director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, agreed. Congress should spend more time on that provision, but some action is needed, he said. "End users who innocently adopt a technology need to be protected," he said.
In addition, the bill "micromanages" the way judges handle patent lawsuits, Dickinson said. Congress shouldn't tell 550-plus district court judges that "one size fits all" in patent litigation, he said.
The provision directing judges to delay discovery requests from patent plaintiffs also needs more work, said Brian Pomper, executive director of the Innovation Alliance, a trade group representing some U.S. tech and manufacturing companies in favor of strong patent protections.
The bill "was put together so quickly," he said.
The sponsors of the bill introduced it on Oct. 23, after months of discussions, and the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve it and send it to the House floor on Nov. 21. Goodlatte has defended the process, saying the committee has debated many of the issues in the bill over a period of years.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.