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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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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