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Statement of Cisco VP, Intellectual Property, Dan Lang on Senate Judiciary Committee Consideration of Patent Reform

By beginning consideration of patent reform legislation, the Senate Judiciary Committee today took a significant step toward ending the abusive patent assertion entity business model.  Yet, there is still a great deal of hard work necessary to get a strong, bipartisan agreement across the finish line.

Significantly, we appreciate Chairman Pat Leahy’s statement today describing the work being done to bring together his bill and major elements of the bills sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Orrin Hatch.

We know that members on both sides of the aisle are working in good faith to forge a bipartisan compromise.  This includes major contributions and leadership from Chairman Leahy and Senator Cornyn, as well as Senators Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley, Chuck Schumer, Orrin Hatch, Amy Klobuchar, Mike Lee, Richard Blumenthal and other members of the committee.  With this level of commitment and engagement on the issue, we are looking forward to a strong bipartisan bill

The problem of abusive patent litigation is large and growing.  Nearly 60 percent of new patent lawsuits are being filed by patent assertion entities, up from 25 percent in 2007.   These are speculators manipulating the patent system to shake down business of all sizes — from innovators like Cisco to tens of thousands of small businesses around the country, including Cisco customers.    

So we need a bill that ends the patent scam business model.  Patent reform should include strong fee shifting that can’t be gamed by speculators hiding behind shell corporations; pleading standards that force plaintiffs to investigate their claims before suing; and limits on expensive discovery fishing expeditions.   Such reforms would provide a level of accountability and transparency that simply does not exist today.

At a time when it difficult for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on many issues, patent litigation reform is one area where a bipartisan agreement is possible, and indeed, within reach. Cisco stands ready to work with the Committee in any way possible to help find a lasting solution to this significant problem.

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