On December 18, Congress adjourned for the year without enacting any new patent legislation. This is despite the fact that late in 2014, members of Congress stated that patent reform was a priority for the 114th Congress, and particularly for 2015. Many commentators believed that significant patent reform was likely for 2015. This appeared to be the case as, in 2014, new patent legislation had made it out of the House of Representatives but was ultimately killed in the Senate. Then, at various times throughout 2015, at least 4 bills, (1) The Innovation Act (H.R. 9) (the one previously killed in the Senate in 2014); (2) The TROL Act (H.R. 2045); (3) the STRONG Patents Act (S. 632); and (4) the PATENT Act (S. 1137), were introduced in either the House or Senate dealing with some aspect of patent reform. However, no law has gone into effect and it now appears that the momentum for patent reform that was prevalent early in 2015 has subsided and there are questions as to whether patent reform will even take place in 2016.
The last major patent reform happened in 2011 with the America Invents Act. However, prior to that, there had been over 50 years since any substantive patent reform. With the Supreme Court continuing to take more patent cases and the continued presence of non-practicing entities, a.k.a. “trolls,” it will be interesting to see whether patent reform will be at the top of Congress’ priorities in 2016, as it appeared to be at the beginning of 2015.