Senate debates patent reform as more voices weigh in
The Senate continued debate Tuesday on The America Invents Act, a patent reform act introduced by Judiciary chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). The bill, which proposes an overhaul to the way the patent system works, would change to a first inventor to file system rather than its current first-to-invent system.
Much of the rest of the world already uses this first-to-file system, intended to create a clear timeline for an invention. The bill does allow for exceptions to this rule, making allowances, for example, for academics who share their ideas with colleagues.
The bill has bipartisan support and the backing of the White House, which issued a statement saying, "This essential provision will reduce legal costs, improve fairness, and support U.S. innovators seeking to market their products and services in a global marketplace." It also has the support of The Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, which include companies such as 3M, General Electric, DuPont, Motorola, Proctor and Gamble, and Johnson and Johnson.
Leahy and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced an amendment to the bill this morning that made several small changes. It halves the application and search fees for small entities requesting accelerated patent examination and creates three, smaller satellite patent offices.
The proposal has met with resistance from some of its earliest supporters in the technology industry. The Coalition for Patent Fairness, which includes companies such as Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel and Verizon, has issued a statement saying it opposes the current bill.
"The goal of the Coalition for Patent Fairness is to develop a balanced, effective, and strong patent system for the 21st century," the coalition said in a press release. "The provisions outlined in S. 23, scheduled to be debated by the Senate, do not yet meet this goal."
"Portions of the current bill – including the inter partes reexam, damages, and venue sections – remain objectionable to the technology community and we believe most stakeholders would support removing those sections," the release stated. The coalition also has concerns about including prior user rights in the first to file system and ensuring funding for the Patent and Trademark Office.
| March 1, 2011; 5:10 PM ET
Categories: Apple, Google, Intel, Mobile
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