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Second time lucky?

As the Washington Post recently reported, would-be legislation aimed at adjusting the country's patent system was stymied in the U.S. Senate last year.

Most of our readers in Texas and elsewhere know well how things work regarding the enactment of laws on Capitol Hill. Some bills are dead in the water, and others come back in resurrected form for repeat scrutiny.

A new Senate bill that just garnered the approval of that body's Judiciary Committee is among the latter type. Having passed its initial committee hurdle, the bill could ultimately be put to a vote before the entire Senate.

As noted by the Post, though, "There's still some negotiating to be done" before it gets that far.

The legislation seeks to reform current patent law by making it more onerous for so-called patent trolls that own intellectual property rights to sue businesses that they contend are using their technology without paying for it.

Patent trolls are widely unpopular. The reason: Typically, they don't use the patents they own to make any product or contribute in any fashion to commerce. What they do pursue is patent litigation for the sake of cajoling other parties into paying damages. Those businesses often do so out of a fear of protracted litigation and ruinously high costs.

"You cannot let these tapeworms on the body politic keep sucking the lifeblood out of us," says Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), a proponent of reform.

The high likelihood of significant debate and tweaking going forward before the bill becomes law -- if, indeed, it does -- is eminently understandable, given, as the Post states, the "millions, if not billions, of dollars at stake" in the legislation.

We will keep readers duly informed.

Source: The Washington Post, "A key bill cracking down on patent trolls just got closer to becoming law," Brian Fung, June 4, 2015

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