IP Update - Patent Law Reform 2011 - June 27, 2011


The U.S. House of Representatives voted by a margin of 304 to 117 on June 23, 2011, to reform U.S. patent laws by approving the America Invents Act (H.R. 1249). This vote follows approval in the U.S. Senate of very similar legislation (S. 23) on March 8, 2011. Prior to the final vote on the bill, the House had approved a manager’s amendment offered by Rep. Lamar Smith by a vote of 283 to 140. The manager’s amendment changed the language of the bill that had been previously reported out of the Judiciary Committee in several ways. The most significant change related to the establishment of a patent and trademark fee reserve fund overseen by the Congressional Appropriations Committee. Original H.R. 1249, like S. 23, gave the Director of the USPTO authority to use the fund without fiscal year limitations and implied this authority was without other limitations, such as approval by Congress. The amendment also addressed other sections of the legislation, including expanding prior user rights, synchronizing the timing requirements for post-grant review and inter partes review with S. 23, authorizing certain USPTO fee increases, authorizing the USPTO’s Track I prioritized examination, limiting the fraud exception to supplemental examination to circumstances where the USPTO Director becomes aware of the fraud, and limiting enforcement of DNA diagnostic patents when a patient needs a second opinion. The House also approved an amendment proposed by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. maintaining the 60-day deadline period to apply for patent term extension.

Both versions of the legislation passed by the House and Senate make significant changes to the U.S. patent system, most notably including conversion to a first-inventor-to-file system, introduction of enhanced post-grant review procedures conducted in the USPTO, and redefinition of the parameters of USPTO funding. The bill also addresses preissuance submissions by third parties; USPTO fee-setting authority; supplemental examination, which appears relevant to the issue of inequitable conduct; amendment of the reissue statute, which also appears relevant to the issue of inequitable conduct; micro entity fees; tax strategy patents; elimination of the best mode defense (although the best mode requirement remains in Section 112); special post-grant review for business method patents; USPTO satellite offices; creation of a USPTO ombudsman; residency for Federal Circuit judges; and USPTO authority to prioritize examination of inventions.

Please see full update below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Finnegan | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Finnegan on:

JD Supra Readers' Choice 2016 Awards
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.