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March 09, 2011

US Senate passes patent reform bill which would transition the US to First to file

The America Invents Act, originally titled the Patent Reform Act, cleared the Senate by a vote of 95 to five

The America Invents Act transitions the United States to a first-inventor-to-file system. This will simplify the application system and bring it in line with the nation’s trading partners. It will reduce costs and improve the competitiveness of American inventors seeking protection in the global marketplace.

The America Invents Act establishes the opportunity for third parties to submit information related to a pending application for consideration by a patent examiner. By allowing prior art to be submitted and explained, patent examiners will have a valuable tool to use to grant only high quality patents. The Patent Reform Act also creates a “first window” post-grant opposition proceeding, open for nine months after the grant of the patent, to allow challengers to weed out patents that should not have been issued.



The America Invents Act would improve the current system for administratively challenging the validity of a patent at the Patent and Trademark Office throughout the life of the patent; would create a more meaningful alternative to litigation by establishing an adversarial inter partes review, conducted by Administrative Patent Judges; and would also curb harassment of patent owners.

The America Invents Act creates a supplemental examination process to incentivize patent owners to commercialize their inventions despite flaws in the application process.

The America Invents Act will benefit tax payers directly by prohibiting patents on tax strategies, which often lead to additional fees on taxpayers who are simply complying with the tax laws.

The bill includes language to end fee diversion, a measure that would ensure that the filing fees patent applicants pay fund the Patent Office. Over the years, patent fees have been diverted to fund other government programs, a condition that has left the office strapped for resources and seen its backlog swell to more than 700,000 applications.

The America Invents Act would also provide an expedited review for applications for patents describing inventions deemed key to national priorities, such as clean energy technology.

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