US biopharmaceutical industry leaders have welcomed the unanimous vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of The Patent Reform Act of 2011, saying the bill will benefit “all sectors of the US economy.”

Enactment of the bipartisan legislation would make the first significant changes to the US patent system in nearly 60 years, and create and protect American jobs without adding to the nation’s deficit, say the bill’s supporters, who began their efforts to reform the system back in 2005.

The Patent Reform Act seeks to make changes to inter partes review, Patent and Trademark Office funding and supplemental examinations. It would transition the US patent system to a first-inventor-to-file system, create a first-window post-grant review process and provide certainty in damages calculations and findings of wilful infringement. It also includes important provisions to improve patent quality.

The Act, which is sponsored by Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy and Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, will allow US inventors and innovators to flourish “without adding a penny to the deficit,” said Sen Leahy, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“A balanced and efficient intellectual property system that rewards invention and promotes innovation through high-quality patients is crucial to our nation’s economic prosperity and job growth,” he said. 

Sen Hatch added that the US is the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial nation and that, if it is maintain its enviable position at the forefront of the world economy, an efficient and streamlined patent system is “absolutely essential.”

Sen Grassley particularly thanked Sen Leahy for working with him on a provision that would curtail patents on tax strategies in facilitating abusive tax avoidance transactions, numbers of which have been growing rapidly. Sen Grassley also expressed the hope that the full Senate would soon have the opportunity to debate the legislation, a sentiment which was echoed by Jim Greenwood, chief executive of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). Mr Greenwood applauded the bill sponsors’ “tireless efforts to carefully craft bipartisan, consensus-oriented patent reform legislation that was approved by the Committee without a single opposition vote.”

“The Patent Reform Act of 2011 would improve the patent system in ways that would benefit all sectors of the US economy by enhancing patent quality and the efficiency, objectivity, predictability and transparency of the patent system,” said Mr Greenwood.