Time for a New American Patent Enterprise
Proof that an American truly invented the product they claimed had been taking too much time and money to convince the public in early 2011. Sen. Patrick Leahy decided to propose a break from the past 60 years of issuing patents to the first to invent to cut down the amount of examination needed to show an American was the inventor.
He put together the American Invents Act.
The First Bill Off The Press
His late January proposal of the bill was not yet the critical opportunity to change the American patent system. The three years it was taking the United States Patent and Trademark Office to approve a patent would keep innovations at standstill a short while longer. Times second to the seven weeks it took Thomas Edison to patent the phonograph were soon to happen, Leahy hoped. His America Invents Act took a month and a half to get an overwhelming bipartisan approval from the senators early in March. Then, it was held at the desk in the House of Representatives.
Elbow to Elbow Just In Time
Rep. Lamar Smith was telling citizens a similar message as Leahy. Many of the lawsuits that developed during long periods it took to settle the right of ownership were called frivolous by the Republican from Texas, just like the Senate Democratic leader from Vermont called them. Before the end of March, the two legislators were standing together will a House version of the bill. The impending takeover of the leader for the patent count in the world by China that Smith said he expected within a year made it necessary that a change to a system designed for the modern days of smart phones and Internet innovations could not get put off much longer.
The alliance worked. Partisan politics did not stand in the way of patent reform. Leahy and Smith called in their friends from both sides of the aisle, the Virginia enterprise man Eric Cantor and the Californian that leads for opportunity for everyone, Nancy Pelosi, among them. The representatives in the House gave their yes vote in June. In September, President Barack Obama, then in the midst of a second effort to soften the hardship caused by the recession by passing plans to make innovation and job creation more productive in America, and strengthen the economy, used a stroke of his pen to sign the America Invents Act into law.
It is The Filing Time That Counts!
An inventor's work is never done. But, the work they do to gain official support from the USPTO in Washington, DC sometimes took so much evidence and conclusive argument the patent ownership was put in jeopardy. The main change made was ending the days of the first-to-invent system and beginning the first-inventor-to-file system. Going half-way to an approval and then having to prove the time of invention to take the patent in the face of a challenge from another inventor no longer will happen. The inventor that files first owns the patent.
Leahy was able to declare the old system was for the past. It only remained to be proven--Faster and less costly USPTO approvals gives Americans more opportunities to innovate and lead in a global economy. His bill even gave the patent office more power to move patent processing ahead at full speed. The USPTO gained the authority to set fees. When the market can do better by taking in a larger number of new product names, the director can lower the fees.
Taking Up The Invention The First Time
Commercial businesses that are willing to take the risk of being the one to first use a patented invention are not treated like anyone else that will put their company on the patent user list. The prior user rights give the lead product manufacturers an incentive to produce in America and keep jobs at home. Leahy and Smith made sure there was no good reason to get tied up with domestic competitors working out deals to share production responsibilities.
A Year, and Then It is History
Ownership confirmed in the public, in spite of the grumbling competitors, can be forestalled for only so long. One of the important changes made in Smith's House version of the America Invents Act was extending the time a competitor can ask the USPTO cancel the patent on any grounds of invalidity to 1 year. The Senate bill gave competitors 9 months. After the year is up, the product identity is sealed.
The invention is officially registered at the USPTO. By filing as soon as they can, Americans can undertake an experiment in invention and end up the one with the patent.
America Invents Act (2011).
House Judiciary Committee, Comparison of Key Provisions of the Senate and House Bills (2011).