Should Congress Amend Section 101 of the Patent Act?

Intellectual Property Practice Group

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This Teleforum addresses whether there is a need to amend Section 101 of the Patent Act, which defines what counts as an invention eligible for receiving patent protection. Between 2010 and 2014, the Supreme Court issued four decisions interpreting and applying Section 101 to business, high-tech, and biotech inventions. In all four cases, the Court held that the patents were invalid for claiming abstract ideas, laws of nature, or facts of nature. Since 2014, federal courts have invalidated many patents in applying the Court’s new rules on patent eligibility. The Patent Office is also rejecting many patent applications. Some people in the innovation industries express concern that the Court’s decisions are vague and provide no objective framework as to whether a claim is patent eligible. Three trade associations, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), the American Intellectual Property Lawyers Association (AIPLA), and the American Bar Association’s IP Section, have released proposed amendments to Section 101. Others in the innovation industries maintain that the Supreme Court was right to reinvigorate patent eligibility doctrine, tightening up this basic legal standard for obtaining a property right in a new invention or discovery, because too many overbroad and vague patents had been issued in recent years by the Patent Office. These invalid patents, they contend, are clogging the gears of the innovation economy by imposing unnecessary costs on other innovators and consumers.  This Teleforum discusses the proposed amendments to the Patent Act, and whether legislative reform of Section 101 is necessary or not.


Mr. Phil Johnson, Founder and Principal, Johnson-IP Strategy & Consulting

Mr. Dana S. Rao, Vice President, Intellectual Property and Litigation, Adobe Systems, Inc.

Mr. Robert Sachs, President, Robert R. Sachs PC

Moderator: Prof. Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law,  Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University


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