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Abstract

On June 8, 2005, Congressman Lamar Smith introduced H.R. 2795, the “Patent Reform Act of 2005,” aimed at improving the quality and certainty of issued patents, simplifying the patent procurement process, harmonizing U.S. law with international practice, and reining in abusive patent enforcement practices. Congress has set the legislation aside for the time being, but will likely revisit the issue again shortly. The biotechnology industry, one of the fastest growing sectors in the United States economy, strongly opposes many of the proposed reforms. This paper considers the Congressional testimonies of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (“BIO”) and other representatives of biotechnology’s interests, and finds that the industry’s adamant opposition to many of the proposals is driven largely by a belief that biotechnology patents function primarily as tools for securing investment funding, and the fear that investment in biotechnology will be adversely impacted if investors perceive that patent reform has weakened the rights of patent owners and inventors. The paper also considers how the biotechnology sector might be impacted if the proposed reforms are enacted into law, and describes some recent biotechnology cases wherein the outcome might have been different if the reforms had already been in place.

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