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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. Hmmmmm ..... How does the good doctor's spells work on tyrants and unelected bureacrats with nearly unchecked power employing in closed hearings employing ad hoc procedures? Just askin'. ... Happy independence day to any and all out there who are "free" ... Unlike me.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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