Obama has just signed into law the controversial patent reform bill called the America Invents Act. The purpose of the bill is to streamline the patent filing process by placing priority on first-to-file rather than first-to-invent and introduces a fast-track system as well as a new ways to avoid patent validity litigation.
Under this new law, the USPTO will now be able to significantly reduce waiting times for patent applications, which will help more ideas get turned in companies and jobs quicker. Start-ups and growing companies get to select a fast-track option that takes only one-third the usual wait time with a 12-month guaranteed turnaround.
Additionally, the new program emphasizes Green Technology developments and accelerates patent applications for that sector. Litigation regarding patent validity can also be minimized under the new act as it offers entrepreneurs new ways to avoid this type of litigation as well as the expense of going to court. Overall, the act brings the US patent system up to date with other systems around the world.
However, there has of course been strong opposition, arguing that the bill only helps large corporations, which can afford the legal help to push patents through faster. The focus on first-to-file rather than first-to-invent can also disadvantage small inventors.
Either way, the America Invents Act probably won’t be helping much with the recent bout of patent suits between Samsung, Apple, HTC, Motorola, Microsoft, and Oracle, to name a few.
[via White House Blog]