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July 23rd, 2007
The US patent system transformation long sought by hi-tech industry players like Microsoft, Amazon.com and Cisco may finally be gaining momentum in US Congress.
On Thursday evening, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved by a 13-5 vote an amended version of the Patent Reform Act of 2007. Supporters say the proposal would go a long way towards staving off expensive court litigation, limiting what are perceived as excessive damage awards, and keeping questionable patents off the books in the first place.
Whether a single, unified patent bill will actually make it to the president's desk this time around still remains to be seen. Both proposals continue to face considerable resistance from a broad swath of companies, from major manufacturers (for example General Electric, 3M and Procter & Gamble), pharmaceutical makers, biotechnology and nanotechnology companies, venture capitalists, some universities and research institutions, and companies like Qualcomm that rely heavily on licensing their patents.
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