Joff Wild

The National Journal Online is reporting that Hewlett Packard has withdrawn from the Coalition for Patent Fairness. Apparently, HP does not support the compromise on damages apportionment reached by the Senate Judiciary Committee in April, which it sees as a "huge missed opportunity".  

Just after the committee's apportionment compromse was reached, this blog reported on a potential split in the CPF over whether to accept it or not. While Microsoft issued a statement praising what had happened, others were said to be opposed to any dilution of the original provisions in the proposed legislation. Looking at CPF press releases issued since the beginning of April, I can't see anything that comes out in unequivocal support of the Senate Judiciary Committee's compromise, which must indicate that there has not been full agreement among members about what position to take. Indeed, an entry on the coalition's blog on 3rd April urged Congress to "consider reinstating the stronger damages reforms". But If HP now feels it is time to withdraw from the coalition maybe all this is about to change. 

It is noteworthy, I believe, that IBM was another company which backed the compromise in April. At the time, its spokesman stated: "IBM supports the amendment and urges to committee to move the legislation forward. Patent reform is urgently needed, and failure to act will harm our nation's economy at a time we can ill afford it." The man in charge of IP law and policy issues at Big Blue back then was, of course, current USPTO Director David Kappos. Recently the Obama Administration has stressed its support for legislative patent reform, and its backing for the new apportionment language. Perhaps the majority of CPF members have now recognised that any attempt to get more aggressive provisions into the final legislation is just not going to work and so their time would be better spent concentrating on other areas, such as post-grant opposition and the introduction of first-to-file (both of which the Administration supports) which do have a better chance of getting through.