Senate Passes Patent Reform Bill

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On March 8, 2011, the Senate passed S.23, “The America Invents Act,” with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 95-5. Leading representatives from the House of Representatives have indicated that they will quickly introduce their own version of patent reform. If completed, this would be the first major overhaul to the patent system in almost 60 years.

S.23 is the culmination of seven years of public debate surrounding patent reform. The debate was initially sparked by a 2004 National Academy of Science’s report that recommended overhauling the patent system to address what it identified as weaknesses in questionable patent quality, rising transaction costs, and international inconsistencies in patent coverage. The report recommended the introduction of a mechanism for postgrant challenges of newly issued patents, harmonization of the U.S. patent law with European and Japanese patent law, and amendments to simplify and reduce the cost of patent litigation.

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