Senate approves landmark patent reform bill

The United States Senate overwhelmingly approved fair and balanced patent reform legislation tonight that would spur research and development of innovative products and technologies throughout the economy.

Notably, the legislation – approved by a 95-5 vote – would:

1. Transition the U.S. patent system to a first-inventor-to-file system, which simplifies the application system and brings it in line with the rest of the world. First to file versus first to invent is explained here.

2. Improve patent quality by instituting a new procedure for reviewing patent validity in the months after it is granted.

3. Provide a process by which additional information regarding prior art can be submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, making patents stronger and more likely to withstand a challenge.

4. Make it more difficult to establish that an alleged patent infringer willfully intended to infringe on a patent, while providing more certainty in damages calculations and enhanced damages when a patent has been infringed.

As BIO – the Biotechnology Industry Organization – noted in a statement, “The improvements made by the America Invents Act would benefit all sectors of the U.S. economy by enhancing patent quality and the efficiency, objectivity, predictability, and transparency of the patent system.”

Next, attention on the issue turns to the House, as both the House and Senate must approve identical legislation before it can be sent to President Obama.

– By Tony Jewell