After three hearings and 45 witnesses, there were few new fundamental arguments advanced for or against reforming patent eligibility law at today’s final Senate IP Subcommittee hearing on the topic, but several key—and some alarming—messages were underscored. A few takeaways off the bat: there are going to be considerable changes to the working draft. In particular, there were four issues that Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)Co noted were raised repeatedly. First, both sides agreed the new proposed definition of “utility,” which requires “sufficient and practical utility in any field of technology through human intervention” needs to be further defined; those for reform felt that the language could be too narrowly interpreted, while those against feared it was not definite enough. “Clearly, those terms need better definition or more meat on the bones,” Tillis said. Secondly, everyone was concerned with Section 112(f). Tillis pointed to the practical argument made by inventor Paul Morinville about the impossibility of meeting that requirement in the context of software coding language, for example, while Tillis said the tech companies were afraid the language wasn’t strong enough to weed out overbroad software and business method claims that most agree should not be patent eligible.
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