On September 8, the Senate passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), H.R. 1249, by a vote of 89-9. The bill now will be sent to the President for his signature.
This legislation has been a major priority of the Department of Commerce and the Office of General Counsel since the beginning of this Administration. The AIA marks the first comprehensive reform to U.S. patent law in 60 years and transforms the patent system to accommodate the needs of 21st Century inventors and businesses.
At a time of great need for the U.S. economy, the AIA will foster American innovation, provide greater certainty to businesses and inventors, and promote job growth. Fundamental changes to the patent system made by the legislation include:
- Establishing a “first-inventor-to-file,” which will simplify the U.S. patent application system and harmonize it with others around the world;
- Providing the opportunity for third parties to submit information regarding pending patent applications and creating a post-grant opposition proceeding to identify patents that should not have been granted. Both these changes will improve patent quality, which will promote investment and job growth;
- Improving the system to administratively challenge patents, which will speed adjudication of meritorious challenges and provide faster resolution and certainty for patent holders facing unsubstantiated challenges; and
- Reducing fees for small and micro-entities by as much as 75%, which will foster innovation.
The AIA requires a series of rulemakings and studies, which will need to be completed expeditiously. The Office of General Counsel will be working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to complete the work as quickly as possible and to bring the benefits of the legislation to consumers and businesses alike. Implementation Effort