Patent reform has been one of the hot topics recently, with much attention being paid to bills being reviewed by Congress at present. However, there are legislative happenings other than the Hatch-Leahy Bill that have the potential to affect the patent system in a major way. The House of Representatives passed a bill on September 28 which purports to enhance the legal system’s ability to handle patent cases in the District Courts. The bill is currently awaiting approval by the Senate. The bill, H.R. 5418, is meant to create a system to better educate willing judges so that there will be a greater ‘talent pool’ to draw from. Essentially, the idea is that certain districts will gain extended expertise in the area of patents, and the judges would volunteer to hear those cases. The bill is a response to the fact that many smaller districts rarely handle patent cases. As a result, they are less able to efficiently and effectively explain the issues in the cases to the juries required to try those cases. Thus, the bill will hopefully create a mechanism for trying cases in front of judges familiar with patent law, which will in turn expedite the process patent litigation. The bill seems likely to be passed, regardless of the the outcome of the elections this November, as the bill has recieved bipartisan support. Lastly, it is important to note that the bill is not an attempt to establish a specialized court designed to only handle patent cases; the bill’s goal is to more effectively handle the litigation and place it in the courts best equipped to deal with the issues.

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