October 8, 2019

Rep. Collins (R-Ga.) Calls for Patent Reform After American Axle Decision

Holland & Knight Section 101 Blog
Anthony J. Fuga

We wrote about the Federal Circuit’s American Axle decision last week, highlighting Judge Kimberly Moore’s fierce dissent. Judge Moore was not the only person with a strong reaction. A day after the decision, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) issued a statement, where he called for a new patent eligibility test. His statement reads:

"Our patent eligibility test is clearly flawed, and the court’s decision yesterday regarding American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. showcases the inadequacies of this test. It’s unthinkable the courts found this invention, a manufacturing process for making a key automotive part, as patent ineligible. The courts have misstated the law several times, which deprives many innovative products of adequate protection. Congress must establish a new eligibility test to encourage investment in developing new U.S. technologies and ensure American inventors aren’t at a global disadvantage. I’ve been working on reforming this test with my colleagues in both the House and the Senate, and I look forward to continuing this important work."

Rep. Collins’ reference to his earlier work on patent reform presumably includes the draft bill introduced by Sens. Thoms Tillis (R.-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). During a series of congressional hearings, the senators stated that the draft bill was not final, but they planned to finalize the bill after the July 4 recess. The final bill has not yet been introduced. 

Rep. Collins’ statement echoes the concerns repeatedly asserted by Sens. Tillis and Coons – namely, that current patent eligibility law hurts investment in U.S. technology and puts American inventors at a disadvantage. (Note: that contention is not universal.) Regardless of its veracity, it’ll be interesting to see if this pushes congress to finalize its patent eligibility bill. 

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