Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi / NLJ)

The Senate Judiciary Committee has reached an agreement on a patent reform bill “in principle” after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, but not in time for a vote today before a two-week recess, the committee leadership announced.

The committee pushed to meet this morning and advance the leading bill, the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act. Leahy in November introduced the measure with co-sponsors Mike Lee, R-Utah; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

But today’s meeting was postponed because committee members are still working on the language for several key provisions that include pleading requirements and shifting legal fees. The committee originally had hoped to move on the bill last week. Congress on April 14 begins a two-week recess.

“We have made enormous progress, and we now have a broad bipartisan agreement in principle,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee chairman, said in a written statement. “This is a complex issue and we need additional time to draft the important provisions that have been the subject of discussion.

“I have talked to many senators on both sides, and because I want to be sure everyone is comfortable with how these pieces fit together, I will circulate a manager’s package the day we return from recess, and the Judiciary Committee will consider that legislation the first week we are back,” Leahy said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the top Republican on the committee, said members on both sides have worked in good faith to reach an agreement.

“It’s a time-consuming and challenging process that will result in a much better product,” Grassley said. “We’ve made remarkable progress in the last week, and at this time we have a tentative agreement in principle.”

Lawyers who are closely following the reform push said that passing the bill before the recess would have made it more likely to pass this year. The summer recess and the approach of the November elections will slow down legislative activity on Capitol Hill.

Contact Todd Ruger at On Twitter: @ToddRuger.