Legislators are confident that the Biotechnology PatentProtection Act will probably become law later this year.

"I'm very optimistic," Rep Rick Boucher, D-Va., the bill's sponsorin the House of Representatives, told BioWorld. And SenateJudiciary Committee staff member Dennis Burke voiced similaroptimism.

Last year the bill passed in the Senate, but time constraintsprevented the House from acting.

The Act, an amendment to the patent code, would alleviate twoproblems that have weakened patent protection. First,patentability criteria make it difficult to obtain process patents.Second, a loophole in the code allows a company to circumventa host cell patent by importing the resulting product into theU.S.

The Act would broaden patentability criteria and close theloophole.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has already held hearings, andprobably soon will vote on the measure. It will then go to thefull Senate.

The House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and JudicialAdministration has scheduled a hearing for June 9, andBoucher told BioWorld that Subcommittee Chairman WilliamHughes, D-N.J., wants to move the bill. "To use his phrase, saidBoucher, "he 'wants to do something with biotechnology.' So I'mconfident he intends to move the measure forward. I think wehave an excellent chance of passing the bill during thisCongress."

-- David C. Holzman Washington Editor

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

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