White House makes late push for patent reform

Ahead of a key vote to end debate on landmark patent legislation in the Senate, a top White House advisor has weighed in to endorse reform efforts.

Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, took to the White House blog with the latest video (embedded below) in his series of white board presentations, making the case for patent reform as a core plank of President Obama’s economic agenda.

Though Goolsbee did not mention the pending legislation by name, the administration has endorsed the bill, authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and many of the reforms Goolsbee touted in his presentation are also aims of the America Invents Act.

Specifically, Goolsbee focused on efforts to reduce the backlog of applications awaiting preliminary review at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That backlog has swollen to more than 700,000 applications, pushing the average grant time to around three years.

“The thing is three years is far too long,” Goolsbee said. “If you look at the failure rate of new businesses, in that kind of time frame more than one third of them have ceased to exist.”

Goolsbee also endorsed efforts to keep the Patent Office is adequately funded by ensuring that application fees filers pay are not diverted to other government programs, something the Leahy bill, as amended, would accomplish. Goolsbee also talked up the administration proposal to establish an expedited review process.

After several days considering amendments last week, the Senate is scheduled to hold a cloture vote on the Leahy bill this evening to end debate.

Leahy, for his part, welcomed the tacit endorsement of the White House as he looks ahead to a final vote on legislation he has worked on in various iterations for six years.

“Chairman Goolsbee’s white board presentation highlights the very things the America Invents Act will address, including patent quality, reducing patent backlogs, and spurring innovation to create jobs,” he said in a statement.

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