Los Angeles – The U.S. Senate has passed the America Invents Act, a new law that is aimed to create synergy between U.S. patent law and foreign patent laws. Most importantly, the law will move the United States one step closer to the well-embraced first-to-file system used by most other countries. With the first-to-file system, the right to a patent for a given invention lies with the first inventor(s) to file a patent application for protection of that invention, regardless of the date of actual invention.
The new law, a major overhaul of existing patent law, will shift focus from invention date to filing date, thus limiting the controversy between inventors as to who invented something first. This will essentially become a race to file your patent first, with the issuance of the patent being awarded based on file date and not invention date.
The America Invents Act is just another facet to aid The Intellectual Property Enforcement Committee. The Committee was established by the Obama administration in early 2011 to improve the Federal Government’s efforts to enforce intellectual property. President Obama has also been a proponent of the fast-track patent process which will speed up the patent review time and help businesses get their inventions to market faster.
Opponents to the new law argue that the first-to-file system would make it more difficult for smaller businesses to compete with large businesses that have more resources to file patent applications first. The bill has proactively addressed this concern by mandating studies be conducted to determine the effects it would have on small businesses. Furthermore, these studies would specifically focus on “how the change would affect the ability of small business[es] to obtain patents and the costs of obtaining patents; whether the change would create, mitigate, or exacerbate any disadvantage for applicants for patents that are small business[es], and whether the change would create any disadvantages for [small business] applicants.” We don’t believe that the new laws will put small businesses at a disadvantage.
Many large corporations such as Microsoft, GE, IBM, and Exxon strongly support the bill. Regardless of the opposition from heavy-hitters like Apple, Verizon, Dell, and Cisco, the bill is likely to pass. David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) thinks the bill has promise and stated that the USPTO “looks forward to further action in the House, which will help deliver a 21st Century patent system that better equips the USPTO to move innovative ideas with sound patent protection to the marketplace. We urge the House of Representatives to act on this legislation quickly, so that America’s innovators can benefit from these reforms as they work to turn their ideas into new businesses and new jobs.”