Feeds

US patent reform jumps through second hoop

It's only taken 59 years – so far

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The US House of Representatives has passed a patent-reform bill that supporters say will boost the development of American politicians' favorite four-letter word: jobs.

"The Patent Reform Act is a key part of any jobs agenda," argues the bill's Senate sponsor, Patrick Leahy (Dem-VT). "We can help unleash innovation and promote American invention, all without adding a penny to the deficit. This is commonsense, bipartisan legislation."

The House bill, H.R. 1249, aka the "America Invents Act", passed on Thursday with a vote of 304-117. A nearly identical bill, S. 23, passed the Senate in March by an even more lopsided margin of 95-5.

One major reform in both the House and Senate versions of the bill is a change from the current "invented first" system to a "filed first" system. Doing so would not only bring the US system in line with those in the majority of countries, but also guard against Johnny-come-lately litigants popping up to challenge patent applications by claiming previous inventions.

Both bills include a raft of protections and appeal methods to protect legitimate opposition to patent filings, but supporters contend that the Act would go a long way towards keeping patent disputes from unnecessarily clogging the courts and stifling product innovation.

Another helpful change would be the Act's modification to how the US Patent and Trademark Office is funded. Currently, the USPTO relies on appropriations from an increasingly stingy Congress to pay its bills – and many of the Act's supporters argue that this funding method has kept the office understaffed.

Both the House and Senate versions of the Act would allow the USPTO to set and collect its own fees. There is one wrinkle, however: the Senate version would let the USPTO keep all the fees. The House version, however, would require that a certain dollar amount be appropriated to the USPTO, and if the fees collected exceeded that amount, Congress would decide whether that overage would go to the USPTO.

While the passage of the Act by such large margins in both houses of Congress is encouraging to those who regard the USPTO as an embarrassing train wreck, it's not yet law. Before it goes to President Obama's desk for his signature – and he has said that he'd sign a patent-reform bill – the two versions of the bills must be reconciled in a House and Senate conference committee.

With the current level of partisan bad blood boiling on Capitol Hill, and with both parties embroiled in a debt ceiling–debate death match, a swift reconciliation is unlikely.

But if – when? – the two versions can be successfuly combined and signed by Obama, the Act would be the first significant change to the US patent system since the Patent Act of 1952.

It's about time. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.