A Brief History of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Patents
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary was established in 1816 as one of the first standing Senate committees. Initially, the Committee's jurisdiction extended to oversight of the government's issuance of patents. In 1837, this responsibility shifted when the standing Senate Committee on Patents was created to specifically oversee and manage a growing number of patent issuances and requests. Legislation considered and reported by the Committee on Patents between 1840 and 1890 dealt with patent, copyright, and trademark laws.
During this time, the Committee on Patents frequently drafted private legislation, which typically stemmed from a petition filed by an individual for "redress of grievances" (see First Amendment, U.S. Constitution). In many cases, the legislation would address protections not provided to an inventor by existing patent law. Congress would then vote to amend the patent law to correct any inadequacies addressed by the private legislation. Jurisdiction returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks with the enactment of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, the most comprehensive reorganization of Congress to date.
In 2006, the Judiciary Committee began considering bipartisan legislation to comprehensively update and modernize the patent system for the first time since the Patent Act of 1952. Working nearly six years, the Judiciary Committee refined and built upon the initial proposal, and the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act was signed into law on September 16, 2011. This law brought numerous important changes to the American patent system to improve the patent application process and the quality of patents issued by the Patent and Trademark Office.
The Judiciary Committee continues to work on patent issues, including considering proposals aimed at addressing abusive patent trolling activities that impede innovation.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office