Patent Reform Will Affect Patent Application Process
On Tuesday, March 8, 2011, the Senate passed the first patent reform bill in more than 60 years.
With over 700,000 patents backlogged in the USPTO's current slow system, this bill provides hope for some that the patent application process will become more streamlined and efficient. The USPTO estimates they will have to hire about 1,000 new examiners, rebuild its IT infrastructure and establish rules to implement the new procedures.
Thomas Edison benifitted from the "First to Invent" rule when he filed the light bulb patent in 1880.
It also tackles the notion of "first to invent," which many blame for the numerous intellectual property litigation cases that are clogging up the courts. Currently, if you can prove you were the first to invent a technology, you have grounds to hold the patent rights to that invention. The United States is the only country that works this way, with almost all other major patent offices using a "first to file" for an application as proof of ownership of the intellectual property. This new legislation will bring us in step with the rest of the world, but not everyone is happy about giving up our unique "first to invent" rule.
Although the America Invents Act (Patent Reform Act of 2011) passed the Senate, we still have to wait and see if it will pass through the House of Representatives. Thursday, March 10, 2011, the House began hearings on patent reform. After the House and Senate bills are reconciled, only then will we truly understand what the final bill will say. However, we have a good start with the Senate bill.
Critics of the new bill (including the 5 senators that voted against it) claim the changes will favor big corporations who have the money to file patent applications early and often. They are worried the small businesses and solo inventors will loose a competitive edge. This could be pursuasive in the House of Representatives, where a Republican majority (and the strong Tea Party contingent) tend to favor individual rights.
What are your thoughts on Patent Reform?
March 11, 2011
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