The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet recently held hearings targeted at further exploring intellectual property laws and policy. On July 24, the Subcommittee held another hearing in its series that is examining federal copyright laws, this time focusing on remedies for copyright infringement provided under Chapter 5 of Title 17. This was a follow-up to a previous hearing that focused on the notice and take down provisions of Section 512. Issues addressed in the July 24 hearing include the creation of a small claims copyright system to alleviate high cost barriers to the current system, technology company concerns regarding secondary liability, and appropriate statutory damages. Witnesses included David Bitkower, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division.
On July 31, the Subcommittee held a hearing “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: The America Invents Act and Beyond, Domestic and International Policy Goals.” The Subcommittee heard testimony from The Honorable Michelle K. Lee, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Chairman Goodlatte noted that the America Invents Act (“AIA”) “was the most significant reform to U.S. patent law in [his] lifetime,” warranting close oversight of the rules and procedures put in place by the USPTO. Chairman Goodlatte stressed the importance of post grant proceedings available under the AIA, which were meant to provide an alternative forum for resolving patent disputes. Director Lee provided an overview of the USPTO‘s financial position and strategy, as well as details regarding the agency’s patent and trademark operations, post grant procedures, IP policy and enforcement efforts, and efforts to modernize the USPTO’s operations. Director Lee testified that the number of AIA created administrative patent trial cases have far exceeded expectations and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) is on track to hear 200% more cases than initially anticipated. Since September 2012, there have been almost 2000 petitions filed. Director Lee stated that expectations had been set at between 400-500 cases per year, but the PTAB will receive 1600-1900 new cases per year at the current rate.