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Patent Debate Produces Odd, Bipartisan Alliances Patent Debate Produces Odd, Bipartisan Alliances

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Congress

Patent Debate Produces Odd, Bipartisan Alliances

March 3, 2011

The Senate patent reform debate led to some unlikely allies Wednesday, with Republican leaders taking sides with the White House and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., against efforts by top Democrats to cut the patent bill's controversial first-to-file provision, National Journal Daily reported.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a promised amendment with the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that would preserve the current U.S. system of issuing patents to whoever invents an item first. Under Leahy's proposed America Invents Act, patents would be awarded to the first person to file a patent application, even if someone else invented the item first.

"It's critical, I believe, that we continue to protect and nurture this culture of innovation, and preserving the first-to-invent system that has helped foster it is essential to do this," Feinstein said. She and fellow California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer called the current legislation harmful to small businesses, startups, and other companies, especially in their tech-heavy state of California.

Although Reid has pushed for patent reform as part of a larger innovation agenda, small businesses in Nevada have pressured the majority leader, as well as Nevada's junior senator, Republican John Ensign, to oppose any attempt to transition to a first-to-file system. Ensign also signed on to Feinstein's amendment. To read more, click here. (Subscription required)

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