Patent Reform Gaining Steam, Debate Continues in U.S. Senate
|Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog
Zies, Widerman & Malek
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Posted: Mar 2, 2011 @ 11:40 am
Late yesterday afternoon it came to my attention that an article I recently wrote was referenced by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) on the floor of the United States Senate. The article is titled Senate to Vote on Patent Reform, First to File Fight Looms and addresses the potential change from a first to invent system (which we have currently) to a first to file system (as proposed by S. 23). Needless to say, I was flattered by the attention given to this article by Senator Kyl.
As flattering as it was to be inserted into the patent reform debate in some peripheral way, the real news from yesterday was the Manager’s Amendment was passed by a vote of 97-2. The Manager’s Amendment, cosponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Kyl, included language that would allow the United States Patent and Trademark Office to keep the fees it collects. The Manager’s Amendment reportedly also included insertions favored by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee. See Momentum build for patent bill. Thus, it seems quite likely that patent reform will soon become a reality.
Section 9 of S. 23 already had fee setting authority included, so the addition of provisions akin to the Coburn Amendment, which allow the Patent Office to keep the fees it collects, would create a fully sustainable USPTO, and one that has the resources it really needs to once and for all address the enormous patent application backlog and unacceptably high average pendency. In short, coupled with the efficiency enhancements Director Kappos has been able to achieve on the margins the full and complete self funding that will take place if patent reform is enacted will be enormously positive for all applicants.
The last remaining issue that seems to have the potential to derail patent reform is the first to file issue. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is still expected to submit an amendment to strip first to file from S. 23, but yesterday she reportedly acknowledged that she likely does not have the votes to succeed in that effort. See Momentum build for patent bill.
The argument that Director Kappos and others have used for a long time is that increasing the speed at which decisions are made on patent applications will result in worthwhile innovations being patented in a technologically relevant time frame. Under the current delays many innovations stay pending past their useful life, so when a patent is obtained there is little realistic opportunity to leverage the patent to build a business, attract investors and create jobs. Patents awarded on a quicker, technologically relevant time frame should absolutely lead to more job creation and organic growth of the U.S. economy through reliance on high-paying technology based jobs.
For those who might be interested in our moment in the spotlight yesterday, please see the video clip below, courtesy of C-SPAN.
About the Author
Gene Quinn is a US Patent Attorney, law professor and the founder of IPWatchdog.com. He is also a principal lecturer in the top patent bar review course in the nation, which helps aspiring patent attorneys and patent agents prepare themselves to pass the patent bar exam. Gene started the widely popular intellectual property website IPWatchdog.com in 1999, and since that time the site has had many millions of unique visitors. Gene has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the LA Times, USA Today, CNN Money, NPR and various other newspapers and magazines worldwide. He represents individuals, small businesses and start-up corporations. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.