News & Media

Washington Update: Congress Has Few Working Days Left, Innovation Act, NIH Importance

December 3, 2013—Just a few days remain on the legislative calendar this year and APLU and its members are pressing Congress to craft a long-term budget deal and end sequestration cuts before critical deadlines on the budget and debt ceiling occur in early 2014.

APLU and a delegation of member presidents met with Congressional leaders late last month to discuss how sequestration cuts are impacting university research and leading to a national innovation deficit. APLU encouraged each of its members to contact their Congressional delegations on this issue.

In addition to the budget push, APLU expressed its concerns on the Innovation Act, which would have undermined the ability of legitimate patent holders to enforce their rights and several senators signed a letter on the importance of the National Institutes of Health.


APLU is urging members of the House to vote against H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act. While the university community supports the goals of the legislation to reduce abusive patent litigation practices, the cumulative impact of a number of provisions in the bill would seriously undermine the ability of legitimate patent holders to enforce their patent rights. For universities, H.R. 3309 would impair university technology transfer operations, running counter to the collaborative efforts of universities, industry, and government to increase commercialization of inventions arising from university research, thereby weakening the nation’s innovative capacity.

For universities, the most problematic provisions of H.R. 3309 are:

  • extremely broad fee-shifting provisions that apply well beyond patent infringement cases to any civil action involving patents and create a powerful disincentive for universities to enforce their patent rights,
  • joinder provisions that could draw universities into litigation that they have not initiated but which would carry the massive financial risk brought about by the bill’s fee shifting provisions.

We remain concerned about a number of additional issues which, as explained in the earlier higher education statements, would further impair the ability of legitimate patent holders to defend their patents.

It is important that House Members understand that universities support the goals of H.R. 3309, but believe that the legislation needs further work before it can achieve those goals without harming the nation’s innovative capacity. The university associations addressing patent issues oppose the legislation in its current form.


Thirty-five senators sent a letter to the FY2014 Budget Conferees about the importance of maintaining a strong commitment to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The letter states, “NIH Plays an important role in advancing our understanding of human health, supporting innovation , and investing in the field of biomedical research. It is vitally important to ensure that our Nation remains at the forefront of medical research by continuing to support the NIH’s work.”


The House Science, Space and Technology (SST) Committee tomorrow morning will mark up four bills, including the “Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency (TRANSFER) Act of 2013 (H.R. 2981).

The TRANSFER Act would allow federal agencies to dedicate a small portion of their Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funds to creating “proof of concept” and other innovative technology transfer programs. APLU strongly supports this measure which is aimed at improving the process of translating basic research discoveries into the marketplace. S

Other organizations that have endorsed the TRANSFER Act include: the American Council on Education; the Association of American Medical Colleges; the Association of American Universities; the Association of Independent Research Institutes; the Association of University Research Parks; the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM); the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI); Battelle; SRI International; and the National Venture Capital Association.

  • Access & Diversity

Subscribe to RSS

Browse By Date

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun