Senate Approves Leahy-Smith America Invents Act

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The U.S. Senate voted by a margin of 89 to 9 on September 8, 2011, to reform U.S. patent laws by approving the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, with identical provisions to H.R. 1249, which was approved by the House of Representatives on June 23, 2011. The President previously indicated his support for patent law reform, and we expect he will sign this legislation shortly.

The legislation passed by the House and Senate makes significant changes to the U.S. patent system, 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; reissue, which also appears relevant to the issue of inequitable conduct; micro entity fees; false marking; tax strategy patents; elimination of the best mode defense (although the best mode requirement remains in 35 U.S.C. § 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.

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