Patent Reform Is Again Before Congress - The Patent Reform Act of 2011


Patent reform has been a topic of congressional debate since the introduction of the Patent Reform Act of 2005. Having failed to enact the 2005 legislation or any subsequently proposed reform, patent reform has again been introduced into the Senate, this time entitled The Patent Reform Act of 2011. (S. 23, 112th Cong. (2011).)

In introducing the new bill, Senator Leahy noted the following: "China has been modernizing its patent laws and promoting innovation while the United States has failed to keep pace. It has now been nearly 60 years since Congress last acted to reform American patent law. We can no longer wait." (157 Cong. Rec. S131 (2011).)

As Leahy further explained, the proposed reforms aim to accomplish three goals: (1) "improve the application process by transitioning to a first-inventor-to-file system"; (2) "improve the quality of patents issued by the USPTO by introducing several quality-enhancement measures"; and (3) "provide more certainty in litigation." The most significant changes to implement these goals are described below.

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