Major Changes to US Patent Laws Coming

The U.S. House of Representatives on June 23 approved significant changes to the U.S. patent system. The Senate passed a similar bill in March, and the House and Senate will now reconcile differences between the two bills, when if passed will be sent to the President.

The most significant change brought about would put the United States under a first-inventor-to-file system for patent applications, which is common in many other countries. Currently the U.S. operates on a first-to-invent system.

The Senate and House will also have to work out differences on Unites States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) funding. Since 1992, the office has lost nearly $1 billion because it gets less from Congress than the fees it collects. The Senate bill ensured the USPTO can keep all user fees it collects. The House, however, acceded to Appropriations and Budget Committee demands that Congress retain control over the USPTO’s purse strings. As a compromise, it was agreed to set up a reserve fund for fees collected that exceed what Congress allots to the USPTO in a given year.

The new legislation also sets up a process for third parties to submit information regarding a patent application and establishes a new administrative framework for post-grant reviews that allows disputes involving patent quality and scope to be settled, ideally without lawsuits.


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Established in 1999, Boyle Fredrickson has grown to become Wisconsin’s largest intellectual property law firm. You’ve got ideas, we protect them.

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