Microsoft Applauds Passage of Patent Bill by the U.S. Senate

Yesterday, the Senate passed S. 23, the “America Invents Act,” by a vote of 95-5.  Microsoft applauds the Senate’s action and looks forward to further consideration of patent reform by the House of Representatives.
S. 23 reflects significant progress toward consensus-based reform that serves three important policy priorities: (1) it provides USPTO with the resources it needs to make further progress toward improving patent quality and enhancing the efficiency of USPTO processes and procedures; (2) it removes obstacles to harmonization of patent processes and procedures by enabling the U.S., after many years of delay, to join the rest of the world in adopting a “first inventor to file” system for granting patents; and (3) it provides USPTO with additional administrative tools to help eliminate questionable patents.  At the same time, S. 23 eliminates several controversial, litigation-related provisions that have been obstacles to progress in recent years.   The Senate bill provides a solid and highly constructive basis for further deliberations in the House.
As House Members take up patent reform, we urge that caution be exercised in consideration of provisions that could be construed to exclude or restrict the availability of patents for certain technologies, or to discriminate against certain subject matter in a way that threatens the unitary nature of our patent system.  U.S. innovators increasingly face attempts by foreign governments to restrict the availability of patents in key areas of innovation.  Any similar provisions in U.S. law would not only be bad policy, but could invite ill-advised carve-outs from patent protection in other countries that would ultimately harm U.S. innovation and competitiveness in a global marketplace.  Such provisions are also unnecessary, since there are already provisions of general application, including those relating to the submission of prior art by third parties and post-grant review proceedings, that can be employed to address concerns raised with regard to problematic patents without the need to create special rules that can create obstacles to the global competitiveness of American companies.  
Again, we thank Chairman Leahy and Senators Grassley, Hatch and others for their strong leadership in advancing consensus-based and meaningful patent reform legislation, and we look forward to further progress and action in the House of Representatives.

About the Author

Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

Horacio Gutiérrez is Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel in charge of the Microsoft products and services group (PSG). In this role, he oversees the team that provides front-line legal support to all of Microsoft's engineering and marketing teams, including Devices and Studios, Applications, Services and Dynamics, Operating Systems, Cloud and Enterprise, and Marketing. Previously, Horacio led the worldwide intellectual property group, including the development, maintenance and enforcement of the company’s IP portfolio, inbound and outbound patent licensing, and IP legal and public policy strategy. Prior to his eight years leading the IP group, Mr. Gutiérrez was based in Paris, where he was Microsoft's associate general counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mr. Gutiérrez started his career at Microsoft in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. at the company’s Latin American regional headquarters, where he was responsible for commercial and corporate matters for the region.