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February 07, 2011

Senate Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approves Patent Reform Bill

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor


The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a patent reform bill on Thursday. The proposal now heads to the entire Senate for a vote. If approved by Congress, the Patent Reform Act of 2011 will be the first major Congressional changes to the patent system in nearly 60 years.


The Patent Reform Act is authored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “A balanced and efficient intellectual property system that rewards invention and promotes innovation through high quality patents is crucial to our nation’s economic prosperity and job growth,” Leahy said in a press release.  “The Patent Reform Act will allow our inventors and innovators to flourish. And it will do this without adding a penny to the deficit. I hope that the Senate will act quickly, so that we can win the future by unleashing the American inventive spirit.”

“The United States is the most innovative and entrepreneurial nation in the world,” Hatch added in the same press release. “If we are going to maintain our enviable position at the forefront of the world economy, it is absolutely essential for us to have an efficient and streamlined patent system. This bipartisan legislation, which would be the first major overhaul of our patent system in nearly six decades, is an important step toward maintaining our global competitive edge.”

The legislation will also transition the “patent system to a first-inventor-to-file system, create a first-window post-grant review process, provide certainty in damages calculations and findings of willful infringement, and includes important provisions to improve patent quality,” according to the press release. The bill is based largely on a bill introduced in the 109th Congress by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.).

In response the committee’s vote, the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) issued a statement which said the approval “marks a significant milestone in the effort to secure the U.S. position as the worldwide leader in innovation and the jobs it produces.”

“We urge the full Senate to take up the bill promptly on the Senate floor, and look forward to working with the Senate on the few remaining questions,” the AIPLA said in a press release. “In particular, we would urge the Senate to address the critical matter of providing sustainable funding to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to permit it to do its work in a timely and efficient manner.”

There have been delays in getting patents in the United States, according to TMCnet. In addition, TMCnet reports that the U.S. Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) has seen a tremendous influx in the number of appeals being filed and a growing backlog of cases to be decided.

In connection with a planned hearing in the House on the patent reform legislation, AIPLA Executive Director Q. Todd Dickinson said in a statement, "We are pleased that both houses are taking up patent reform so soon after convening, which we hope is a positive sign about eventual passage.”


Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell








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