Substantive patent reform legislation is dead for the year. The one Bill that has some traction is Representative Darrell Issa's patent litigation pilot program. The Bill (HR5418) would cost only $5m per year and would change the random case assignments in district courts so that judges who opt in would be more likely to hear patent cases. The money pays for a law clerk with technical expertise.
On July 26, 2006, the House IP subcommittee markup, members approved the Bill, although more amendments are expected to address concerns that the focus on particular "patent" judges could increase the opportunity for forum shopping.
Rep Issa is the named inventor on dozens of patents and has personally been involved in patent litigation in his hometown of San Diego.
There is no companion Bill in the Senate yet, although Senator Hatch is said to be "working on it."
One motivation for the legislation is to try to reduce the CAFC reversal rate. Can someone do a study to see if Judges that handle more patent cases are less like to be overturned at the CAFC? You probably have a year to complete the study, because, even with support of the subcommittee, passage this year is still a long-shot.