Congress Passes America Invents Act


After years of debating the need for patent reform, Congress has acted. Today, the Senate passed the House version of the “America Invents Act” (the Act). The bill will now go to the President, who is expected to sign it into law almost immediately. The Act represents the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. patent law in almost 60 years and will effect dramatic changes in a number of key areas. Below is a summary of a few key provisions.

* Switch to “first to file”: Under U.S. patent law, the rights to an invention have historically resided with the first inventor, regardless of who files the first patent application. Most other countries use a “first to file” approach, rather than the “first to invent” rule. Thus, in other countries, it does not matter who invented something first, it matters only who won the “race to the Patent Office.” The U.S. rule has created some peculiarities, including so-called “interference” proceedings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and satellite disputes during litigation about who really was the first inventor. The Act seeks to eliminate such issues and bring the United States into step with the rest of the world by giving the rights in an invention to the first inventor to file a patent application.

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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.

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