Durbin, Tillis, Grassley Introduce Legislation To Improve Coordination Between USPTO And FDA

Bill would establish a task force between agencies to share information, foster good governance in activities related to patents

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish a task force between the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve communication and coordination in implementing each agency’s activities related to patents. Currently, there is very limited collaboration between USPTO and FDA, despite both agencies playing a role related to patents and competition. 

“Establishing clear avenues for collaboration between USPTO and FDA is essential for both agencies to operate smoothly and do their job effectively,” said Durbin. “By incentivizing coordination, we can empower patent examiners and in turn boost competition, including for prescription drugs. Our government operates best when we work together, and I thank Senators Tillis and Grassley for joining me in this bipartisan effort.”  

“Having access to accurate prior art is critical to ensure that the USPTO issues high-quality patents,” said Tillis. “By improving coordination between the USPTO and FDA, Congress can ensure that patent examiners have access to all of the relevant information that they need to help them make a sound determination regarding patentability. This bill is a simple good-government measure that will protect the strength of the patent system, improve patent quality, and cut down on unnecessary bureaucracy between these two agencies.”

“When government agencies fail to coordinate effectively, taxpayers are the ones who pay the price. The USPTO and the FDA would benefit from improved communication and cooperation. Our proposed task force will encourage enhanced collaboration between the agencies, in turn helping taxpayers by increasing competition and trimming bureaucratic red tape,” said Grassley.

Given the shared interaction and overlapping jurisdiction between USPTO and FDA, this legislation promotes efficiency and good governance by fostering communication between the two agencies, while respecting their distinct purviews. Specifically, the task force created by this legislation would: enhance information sharing on each agency’s processes, standards, and methods; improve dialogue on new technologies and scientific trends; and enable confidential reciprocal access to information, if requested and only as needed, related to prior art; accurate representations by companies between the two agencies; and accuracy of patent listings.