case # 1 - U.S. Patent-Law Reform Update China IP News...

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U.S. Patent-Law Reform Update China IP News November 2009 Introduction In January 2009, President Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44 th President of the United States. Whenever there is a change in administrations (especially when the new administration is controlled by a different political party), there will be an increase in legislative activity as the administration attempts to fulfill the promises the President made while running for office. While President Obama's domestic agenda is dominated by reforming health care, there has been substantial activity recently concerning patent- law reform as well. This activity not only involves new laws being proposed in Congress, but involves actions taken by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and new decisions issued by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as well. This article summarizes some of the most important developments in patent-law reform in 2009. Damages Reform By far, the most controversial of these reforms involves damages. Many companies, most notably computer software and technology companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Intel, believe that jury awards in patent infringement cases are too high, which has the effect of hindering innovation. Other companies opposed to damages reform have responded that claims of widespread out-of-control jury verdicts are unfounded and that the existing laws are adequate to address any individual jury verdict that is unjustifiably high. Today, it looks as if those opposed to damages reform have the upper hand, since it appears as if all three branches of the U.S. Federal Government are leaning towards strengthening existing patent-damages laws rather than creating new ones. The existing patent laws (passed by Congress and signed into law more than 55 years ago) say very little about how damages are to be calculated. As might be expected where the statute says so little on a subject, the Courts have been the primary source for establishing how damages should be assessed after a finding of infringement liability has been made. As noted above, however, there are many who are dissatisfied with the current state of the law, and so there is a movement in the U.S. asking both the Court and Congress to reform the patent damages laws. In the Courts, the case many people were watching is a case involving Lucent on one side and Microsoft and Dell on the other. The case is captioned Lucent v. Gateway et al. (Because of a procedural quirk, the case does not mention Microsoft as the first Erik R. Puknys 650.849.6644 Weiguo (Will) Chen 650.849.6729
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defendant even though it is by far the defendant with the greatest potential for loss —in fact, the first-named defendant, Gateway, was dropped from the lawsuit after it reached a settlement with Lucent). This case was on appeal from a district court in California and involved a patent that, according to Lucent, was infringed by the "date-picker" function in Microsoft's popular Outlook e-mail
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2010 for the course PSC 222 taught by Professor Jing during the Spring '10 term at Rochester.

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case # 1 - U.S. Patent-Law Reform Update China IP News...

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