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President signs patent reform law

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

A long-debated patent reform law is now in place, signaling the most significant change to the system in nearly six decades.

President Barack Obama signed the legislation Sept. 16, with Eli Lilly chief executive officer John Lechleiter standing next to him. The America Invents Act – officially known as H.R. 1249 – cleared the Senate in an 89-9 vote on Sept. 8.

Congress wrestled with the proposal for almost a decade. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the United States has issued a series of rulings through the years addressing issues like “business patent methods.”

The new law changes the infrastructure of the nation’s patent system from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system – something that advocates argued would bring the U.S. closer to systems already used in the rest of the world. Under a first-to-file system, two patent applications that cover the same invention can no longer be contested in an interference proceeding. The patent will go to the inventor with the earliest filing date.

Under the old system, interference proceedings were used to determine which of the two patent applicants invented first by reviewing evidence of the actual conception date of the invention. In the first-to-file system, the first inventor to file has the presumptive rights in the patent and the second to file can only overcome that presumption if he or she can prove that the first applicant derived the invention from that other applicant.

Opponents argued that the first-to-file system favors large, well-funded corporations and hurts small inventors who don’t have the resources to file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as quickly.

The law also establishes a process for someone other than the patent owner/applicant to challenge the validity of a granted patent through a post-grant review; allows virtual marking of a patented item; eliminates qui tam provisions in the false marking sections of the law by prohibiting anyone other than the U.S. from suing for penalties associated with false marking; prohibits any patents related directly to or encompassing a human organism; and renders unpatentable any business method or tax strategy.

The law ensures that the patent office has the funding needed to expedite the application process. It currently takes an average of three years to get a patent approved. The agency has a backlog of 1.2 million pending patents, and more than 700,000 have yet to be reviewed, according to the U.S. patent office.
 

Rehearing "Companies urge IP caution" IL March 4-17, 2009

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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