Reform Law Would Allow for Quick Challenges to Patents

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Technology companies, venture-capital financiers and leaders in the U.S. government have recognized that high-quality patents promote innovation and economic growth, while lower-quality patents hinder technology development and investment. To improve the quality of patents in the United States, both houses of Congress have undertaken efforts to reform U.S. patent law, and so far one clear message emerges — companies should challenge poor-quality or potentially threatening patents and applications earlier.

The new legislation, "The America Invents Act," was passed by the Senate on March 8, and the House Judiciary Committee approved a parallel bill on April 14 for consideration on the floor of the House. Although the Senate and House versions differ in some respects, both include distinct procedures, or "windows" of opportunity, to allow earlier and broader challenges to competitors' pending applications and newly issued patents than now available. These procedures, if used effectively, can clear a path forward for new technologies and products.

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