By Scott Nyman
During the past few articles, I have been discussing different aspects of the Patent Reform Act of 2011, as part of a series of articles. As a refresher, Senate Bill 23 is currently making its way through Congress, with the hopes of reforming the way the U.S. examines, allows, and enforces patents. This bill was formerly known as the Patent Reform Act of 2011, and has since been renamed to the America Invents Act of 2011. For the sake of consistency, I will continue to refer to the bill as the Patent Reform Act of 2011 in these articles.
Since I posted the last article in this series, the U.S. Senate passed the Patent Reform Act of 2011 by huge majority. This 95-5 Senate vote proved that legislators on both side of the aisle recognize how broken the U.S. patent system has become, and the Senate is committed to fix it. Either that or it shows that the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have no idea how the U.S. patent system works, but they know some change is necessary . Either way, it’s progress… I guess. Next stop: The House of Representatives.
In passing the Patent Reform Act of 2011, the Senate included provisions that would reshape the U.S. patent system closer to a “first-to-file” system. I have covered this topic HERE and HERE. Also, the Senate has included measures to provide the USPTO with more control over its fee-setting structure. Some benefits that this provision may bring could include the elimination of fee-diversion and the creation of a “micro-entity” fee structure. The Senate also passed provisions regarding third-party challenges, limitations to parties that can bring claims for false marking, provisions regarding inventor oaths, and the removal of failure to disclose the best mode as a means to invalidate an issued patent.
Some of the aspects of the Patent Reform Act of 2011 mentioned above have not yet been discussed in this series. These aspects will be covered in future articles. Don’t worry, the bill now must make it through the House Judiciary Committee. This should provide plenty of time to cover the rest of the Patent Reform Act of 2011 in sufficient detail before it receives the final vote.