House of Representatives passes Patent Reform

Posted Thursday, June 23, 2011.

Earlier today (Thursday, June 23rd), the House of Representatives passed its version of the America Invents Act of 2011, H.R. 1249. This follows earlier passage of the Senate Bill, S.23.

Chief among the reforms contained in both the House and Senate versions of the bill is the “First to File” provision. Such a change to U.S. patent law would harmonize us with the rest of the world in this respect. There may be reasons why individual inventors would prefer that we remain in a “First to Invent” system.

A significant difference remains between the House and Senate versions that will need to be resolved in conference. While the Senate voted to end diversion of fees from the USPTO, the House did not pass that provision. Currently, inventors’ patent application fees can be diverted from the patent office to fund general operations of the government. The results are a shortage of patent examiners, an average pendency of patent applications of three years, a three to five year backlog of patent appeals, among other things. The Senate’s version of patent reform held the promise that the patent office would soon be able to keep 100% of the revenue it generated, which would make faster processing of patent applications possible.

Let’s hope an end to fee diversion is a part of the ultimate bill that comes out of the conference committee.

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