Senate Tries Again on Patent Reform

Lora Bentley

The U.S. patent system is in for its biggest overhaul since 1952 if a trio of senators has its way.


The Huffington Post reports Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) will introduce the Patent Reform Act to the full Senate. The bill survived the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. Hatch calls the legislation "an important step toward maintaining our global competitive edge."


It's no secret that legislators have been trying to pass legislation like the Patent Reform Act for years-with good reason. Writer Jim Abrams explains:

There are about 1.2 million applications pending-700,000 waiting consideration and another 500,000 somewhere in the process. The patent office says it received about 483,000 applications in 2009 and granted about 192,000 patents.

The biggest change would be the move from a first-invented patent system to a first-filed patent system. In extremely simplified terms, the new system would allow the first person to get the paperwork on a particular invention filed and approved to win the patent, regardless who had actually made the product or used the process first. It's a similar system to that currently used in Europe.


The law also would give the patent office the authority to set its own fee rates, which would solve much of the agency's funding problems.

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