Senate approves vital patent reform legislation

AstraZeneca supports patent reform legislation approved by the US Senate today. - Photo via Kevin Burkett.

AstraZeneca commends the United States Senate for approving patent reform legislation today that will modernize the nation’s patent system while encouraging the research and development of innovative products and technologies throughout the economy.

The legislation, which was earlier approved by the House and now will go to President Obama, is an important step forward for many reasons, including:

1. It transitions 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. It improves patent quality by instituting a new procedure for reviewing patent validity in the months after it is granted.

3. It provides 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. Finally, the legislation also makes 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.

Last month, we took a look at why patents matter.