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CEOs Back Patent Reform Proposals

Chief executives want to see action as soon as possible.
Twenty-eight CEOs are urging President Obama to support the Patent Reform Act of 2009.

The CEOs signed a letter saying they support the plan.

"We share your sense of urgency on revitalizing the U.S. economy and believe that patent reform is an important part of that effort," the letter stated.

They cited a study by the Information Technology Industry Foundation stating that information technology has driven most of the economic growth in the United States over the last decade. The study said IT added $2 trillion annually to the economy.

"Modernizing the U.S. patent system and stopping the abuses we see now will greatly enhance our efforts to innovate by creating U.S.-based jobs to help better lead our nation's economic recovery," the CEOs explained in the letter.

The group -- which includes CEOS from Research In Motion, Autodesk, Cisco, Oracle, Palm, Intel, Google, Sybase, HP, SAP, and other heavy-hitters -- urged the president to act quickly on H.R. 1260 and S. 515, saying Congress has spent eight years mulling over patent reform.

"Our country cannot afford to wait," they said.

Sens. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., proposed the nearly identical bills March 3.

The bill doesn't contain Applicant Quality Submissions, which opponents strongly criticized. It eliminates an opt-out provision in current law that allowed applicants to withhold publication under certain conditions. It added language requiring "clear and convincing" evidence to challenge a patent after the second year and added "public use or sale in the United States" as a basis for challenging a patent.

Manufacturers oppose the bill, saying the apportionment of damages would be increased because it would weigh an estimate of the market value of the product rather than the value of the patent. That would require a judge or jury to determine the value of a product that doesn't yet exist and encourage infringement, they contend.

The bill's sponsors said they would try to improve the language of the damages provision.

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