WASHINGTON _ Rep. Carlos Moorhead (R-Calif.),chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courtsand Intellectual Property Thursday chaired a hearing onHR 2235, a bill that would give limited protection toinventors who did not obtain patent protection from aliability they might incur for infringement if the inventionin question is subsequently patented by another company.

The Clinton administration gave its support to the billwhich it said "reflects commercial realities by effectivelybut fairly limiting the permissible scope of use of thepatent invention by the prior use," said Dieter Hoinkes,senior counsel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The hearing was not controversial, an exception in acontinuing series of hearings about hotly debatedproposals to the patent system that Moorhead'ssubcommittee is now considering. (See BioWorld Today,June 28, 1995, p. 1.)

The fireworks resume next week when his subcommitteeconsiders bills that take differing approaches to howmuch patent term protection products should beguaranteed. The biotech industry is split over whether tosupport Moorhead's bill (HR 1733) or one (HR 359)sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sen.Bob Dole (R-Kan.).

Rohrabacher expects the administration to give theMoorhead bill a pro forma endorsement but "has alreadymade a commitment not to veto the Rohrabacher-Dolebill if it is enacted," said Rohrabacher press secretaryDale Neugebauer.

The Rohrabacher-Dole bill now has 197 co-sponsors inthe House, said the aide. _ Michele L. Robinson

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.