Silicon Valley Pressuring Congress for Patent Reform
Under pressure from Silicon Valley, Congress is considering reform of a little-known U.S. agency that is increasingly handling patent disputes.
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, Neal Rubin of CISCO charged that cases in the International Trade Court (ITC) are “injuring rather than protecting our domestic economy.”
Rubin, CISCO’s Vice President of Litigation, argued that Congress needs to rein in the ITC.
“The ITC is fundamentally a trade forum charged with protecting US interests against unfair foreign competition,” Rubin said in an interview. “Who can sue in the ITC is the question, and Congress owns the ability to answer that question.”
Rubin complained about a Canadian licensing company that does not make any products, but opened an office in Texas just to pursue a patent suit against his company.
He complains the cases are “disproportionately expensive” too, because of the burden the ITC puts on companies to produce records and evidence. Rubin says ITC cases account for 10 percent of CISCO’s caseload, but half of his litigation budget.
Colleen Chien, a Santa Clara University law professor, was also on Capital Hill. She said, “The ITC has become the center of the patent world. [It’s] kind of an escape hatch, and so you have opportunistic litigants trying to go there, to get what they can’t get anymore in district court.”
Bernard Cassidy of Tessera Technologies, Inc., another Silicon Valley Company that specializes in getting patents, also testified Wednesday. He argued the opposite case: a weaker ITC would harm U.S. innovation. The company did not respond to a request for interview.