Senate Passes Patent-Reform Bill

Mar 17, 2011

Last Tuesday, the US Senate approved the “America Invents Act,” which is intended to reform the nation’s patent system. If it becomes law, the bill will establish a first-to-file system by defining an invention’s effective filing date as the actual filing date of the patent or patent application.

The bill is intended to reduce the backlog of pending patent applications at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) by providing the office with funds needed to review the applications. The bill also would establish additional USPTO satellite offices.

In addition, the bill would change the US patent system in the following ways:

  • By creating a supplemental examination process
  • By providing increased incentives for government laboratories to commercialize inventions
  • By placing restrictions on false-marking claims (i.e., using a patentee’s name or number on a product without consent)
  • By providing additional patent assistance to small businesses through an ombudsman program.

“The America Invents Act will promote American innovation, create American jobs, and grow America’s economy, all without adding to the deficit,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), one of the bill’s sponsors, in a press release. “It is common-sense legislation that will help preserve America’s position as the global leader in invention and innovation.”

“Our patent laws should be in the iPad age, not the sock hop age,” said Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), another of the bill’s sponsors, in a press release. “This bill will bring our nation’s patent system squarely into the 21st century and will better position our inventors and entrepreneurs to compete in today’s global economy.”

The Obama administration and the Biotechnology Industry Organization have expressed support for the America Invents Act, which is based on a patent-reform act that Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced in the US House of Representatives in 2005. The Senate sent the America Invents Act to the House of Representatives for consideration last Wednesday.

See related Pharm Tech articles:
Senate to Consider Patent-Reform Bill (ePT)

Seeking Patent Reform in Europe (ePT)