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US Senate passes patent reform bill

Posted: , by Victor H.

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US Senate passes patent reform bill
In an 89 to 9 vote yesterday, the US Senate passed a historic patent reform bill, the America Invents Act. Historic because the current legislation hasn’t changed in 50 years or so. But also - because it threatens to put an end to patent trolls, which thrive on patterns they didn’t invent and seem like the virus in the system for some.

The new bill gives the USPTO more control over its fees and directs the money to a capped patent office fund. Previously, money from patents would go to Congress and from there on were diverted often eslewhere than the USPTO budget. Estimates show that over the last 21 years, more than $800 million were diverted from the agency.

The new bi-partisan bill wants to speed up and improve the application process by recruiting more examiners, modernizing equipment and filtering out too broad patents. As of now, the USPTO suffers from a 700,000 patent backlog and it sometime takes 34 months - nearly three years - for a patent to be approved.

So what exactly changes in the way patterns are filed? Put shortly, the whole system. The new bill takes the first-to-file approach (popular in Europe) over the previously used first-to-invent. The application can be disputed during the process or up to nine months after the filing. That is a core change allowing third parties to challenge a patent and thus help control the system. It would also protect from lengthy and unsubstantial arguments over who was the first to invent a particular technology. It also saves from years of litigation over who was the first to invent a technology - a costly battle that might incur a total of $400,000 to $500,000 in expenses, according to the patent office. This is too much of a burden for the small investor, thus making it an easy win for big corporations.

Opponents to the legislation, including the National Small Business Association, point out that it favors big corporations which will might be able to block smaller business by just flexing their patent muscle. The new bill also fails to address software patents in particular. Software patents differ because they are often based on calculations and concepts. This seem to contradict current legislation as it forbids from patenting mathematical algorithms.

Apple, Google and Intel all backed the America Invents Act, but it still needs to get the President’s signature. Take a look at the source link below for the full text and all the details around the bill, but don’t forget to also take a look at our analysis of current patent disputes and leave your opinion about the reform in the comments below.


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posted on 09 Sep 2011, 06:05 3

1. XiphiasGladius (Posts: 801; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


The new bi-partisan bill wants to speed up and improve the application process by recruiting more examiners, modernizing equipment and "FILTERING OUT TOO BROAD PATENTS"

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 06:15

3. XiphiasGladius (Posts: 801; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


That line ultimately made me smile very wide. . .

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 06:53 6

6. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


i guess we wont be seeing Apple's "patent drawing on a bar napkin" approach in the US anytime soon. lol.

What is apple gonna do now when it cant misconstrue evidence?!? lol

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 07:09 2

9. iKingTrust (banned) (Posts: 716; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)


It is not talking that away. As long as you file first. Read before you talk. as long as they file that napkin its all good.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 08:08 2

12. Heatfan316 (Posts: 378; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


Yeah this idiot wants the patent wars to continue. Your a Hater

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 07:10

10. XiphiasGladius (Posts: 801; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


LOL. . . If Barak inks it then we might see an end of the silliness in the Mobile Tech world. . . And as a bonus we might see someone cringe. . .

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 08:50 2

17. ScienceLion (Posts: 8; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


They will always find a way to abuse the system, one way or another.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 10:45

25. ant0nthegreat (Posts: 1; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


Yep there's a reason why the rich stay rich. Because they aren't stupid. They know how to play the game.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 12:14 1

32. The_Miz (Posts: 1496; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)


LOL, Barack Obama hasn't made a good decision since he got in office. It's not Apple's fault that Samsung is a bunch of copycat trolls.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 12:36

33. homineyhominey (Posts: 29; Member since: 10 Mar 2011)


Wow, you calling someone a troll. Original

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 12:49

34. Heatfan316 (Posts: 378; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


How about Samsung is responsible for apple's success did you ever think of that, I mean those are all Samsung parts in the iPhone/iPad like the screen the processor just to name a few, but you don't think like that because your a little troll

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 11:41

29. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5617; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Meh. The bill mostly makes changes around the margin of the U.S. patent system. For example, first to file is effectively in place now through the use of provisional patent applications. Have an idea for a new widget? Scribble a quick design on a cocktail napkin and submit a provisional application. Sound familiar? Once the technical challenges are sorted out, the earlier filing date of the provisional application becomes the official filing date.

With first to file, it is possible the Wright brothers would not have been credited with inventing human flight. Others were working on the idea, but it was the Wright brothers who solved all of the technical challenges. They did not file their application until after their first powered flight.

The one real improvement is in securing a funding level for the PTO and hopefully, that will increase the competence of the examiner pool. I have had to respond to some bullsh*t objections that were not even related to the patent that was being examined.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 14:43

41. ScienceLion (Posts: 8; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


Nope. Provisional disclosure does benefit from a prior date, but it does not make the entire disclosure of the non-provisional application receive that prior date.

Competence probably doesn't have to deal with the "bs objections". Someone was probably trying to bluff you. Why would they do that? Probably to try to get an RCE out of it and lighten up their workload. Don't take it personally, the examiners have their jobs and you have yours.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 16:40

44. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


Provisional patent is NOT the same or effectively the same as first to file. There is something called the Poor's Man Patent -- if done correctly, i.e. with witness(es), document is notorized, properly sent via the postal system (certifed mail), etc... is strong evidence documenting the date of the invention.

I was instructed to keep a contemporaneous log of my inventions as well. It's not foolproof but adds to the credibiity of when the idea was started.

It's so obvious to me the people here don't understand the patent process and as a result tend to belittle the inventors or the owners of the patents. Patents are incentives for people to innovate and patents give the inventor a limited-life monoploy on that idea as a reward. Patent holders need to be protected against infringers.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 06:13 2

2. Heatfan316 (Posts: 378; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


Put an end to patent trolls. You hear that apple your evil ways are just about over. Me:) Steve Jobs/apple lawyers:( haha. And don't worry fanboys the President will sign this bill.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 07:00 2

8. pongkie (Posts: 497; Member since: 20 Aug 2011)


the president is a blackberry fanboy lol

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 09:32 2

22. PeterIfromsweden (Posts: 1230; Member since: 03 Aug 2011)


No, Obama is going to get the iphone next he has said.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 10:05 1

23. Dj21o (Posts: 437; Member since: 19 May 2011)


Hahaha "I am Barak Obama and I approve this message." XD

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 07:51 1

11. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Apple supported this bill.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 08:27 1

14. Heatfan316 (Posts: 378; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


Really, it doesn't seem like it and they damn sure don't act like it because they're constantly trolling.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 13:49 1

36. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


If you read the article its pretty god dam obvious. For christ sake it says apple supported the bill. And you go on with your nonsense. Apple is not a evil company not even close.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 09:03

19. Dj21o (Posts: 437; Member since: 19 May 2011)


If you haven't heard, HTC is suing Apple too. Its not just Apple........

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 10:34 3

24. box (unregistered)


HTC is COUNTERsuing apple. Apple started it. They've more or less been starting it since 2007, when they they were somehow awarded bogus patents for stuff that wasn't theirs and was blatant copies or modifications of patents, IP, and corporate design philosophy. Which is why they were quickly taken to court by Nokia and a few others for using their designs and patents without license, hence the big cross-licensing deal as a years-later result few months back. Nokia could have pushed for the ban of the infringing devices and demanded an enormous sum for prior sales of the same devices, but instead they graciously licensed the patents instead. As apple is proving with the Samsung Galaxy series, they aren't nearly as gracious, because they're afraid of the Galaxy line's success and potential market dominance in those that aren't yet saturated with sheep-le who buy an i-device because it's the only thing they've seen advertised, not realizing there's better and cheaper options available

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 16:55

47. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


Is that why HTC is paying a royalty of about $5 a device to Microsoft for infringing Microsoft's patents?

I heard Samsung may pay as much as $10 a device.

It's a known fact the android system infringes on other people's patents, and the cell phone OEMs are left paying the price.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 18:36

50. applesauce (unregistered)


No one is forcing the OEMs to use Android, but it's their best bet for saturation and profits, as it's the biggest ecosystem available right now, though with all the money and effort Microsoft and phone OEMs are putting in WP7, I would anticipate it overtaking iOS and competing with Android in the next few years, unless something comes out of the blue (like bada or MeeGo) and gains a cultish following. Android is a great OS, but its open source roots and its nature of user-initated tweaking is likely its undoing: it's more approachable than Linux/Unix, but customers want the customizability of an open-source OS, with the ease-of use of iOS, hence WP7's probable success. It's literally the Windows of the smartphone world.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 06:21 1

4. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


I got lucky that my first patent was filed and paid for by the manufacturer under a licensing agreement. It was expensive and took a long time. Right now, to pursue a patent, it will take $7,000 to $15,000 to file and process and can take up to 3 years without a guarantee that I will get a patent. I know a lot of inventors file a provisional patent and hope to license or get a manufacturer to finish the patent process.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 06:29

5. XiphiasGladius (Posts: 801; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


What its that expensive? that somewhat feels like youre going into a casino to gamble. . .

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 08:41

16. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


People don't understand it is a gamble. At the barebone minimum, you need $3,000 to $5,000 to hire a patent attorney and file the necessary documents and fees. The expenses get out of control if the patent office challenges your patent.

Right now, companies with deep pockets dominate the patents even though you might have the small guy file the patent for bragging rights.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 09:03

18. ScienceLion (Posts: 8; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


If it really is novel and nonobvious, it's no gamble. Some extra fees can be avoided, like extension for replying time. You essentially can get three tries to format a patent to allowance before having to pay for continued examination.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 16:46

45. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


That is a good point -- the hard part is what is novel and nonobvious to you is not necessary novel and nonobvious to the patent examiner.

Yes, my patent was challenged during the process and as a result the legal bills shot up. That is the point that most inventors lose sight of -- higher legal bills.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 06:57 1

7. pongkie (Posts: 497; Member since: 20 Aug 2011)


Yey no more patent wars... consumer wins but still sucks to be in Germany :D

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 08:14 2

13. govt wins (unregistered)


dont' be confused by the smoke and mirrors. this is yet another piece of legislation that congress slid under the door and passed which gives the govt more power, control, and MONEY in the hands of our "masters". It is not about the patents!! Believe that. And no i am not a theorist! Just a realist with my eyes open.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 08:34 1

15. jbash (Posts: 339; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


Completely agree, I'm glad legislation is getting involved in the patent issues, but unfortunately its another bill passed only as another source of revenue for govt. Nothing to do with making it any better for their constituents.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 09:15

21. ScienceLion (Posts: 8; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


Did you read anything about the money?
"Previously, money from patents would go to Congress and from there on were diverted often elsewhere than the USPTO budget."
The government was taking the USPTO fees and using it for other things. Guess where the money is going to go now? To your "masters"? Nope.
"recruiting more examiners, modernizing equipment"

As for power, the USPTO pretty much runs on it's own. You think politicians know patent law? lol. You shouldn't be allowed to post unless you can state how you can be regarded as a patent professional.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 14:34

40. jbash (Posts: 339; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


"The new bill gives the USPTO more control over its fees and directs the money to a capped patent office fund. Previously, money from patents would go to Congress and from there on were diverted often eslewhere than the USPTO budget. Estimates show that over the last 21 years, more than $800 million were diverted from the agency" The whole paragraph is speculative and has no factual information to base it upon.

I never said I was a professional on Patents. The USPTO doesn't run on its own, it is an agency that is part of the United States Department of Commerce. Its Agency executive is appointed by the President and approved by the senate. It is heavily regulated by gov't and yes 10% of fees were diverted to other government spending. However the Coburn Amentdment, that is part of the America Invents Bill, states that Congressional Apppropriaters will still be in complete control of all funds raised by users fees. So once again congress will be in control of what money is allocated to USPTO.

All and all the main reason was to change the system from invent first(which we are the last country to do so) to a patent first country. Why? because the new system benefits big business therefore making more revenue off of fees, which in the end means more revenue for congress.

And I am allowed to post here because it is a comment section where I can express my opinion, not because of my given profession. Cheers! =)

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 15:31

42. ScienceLion (Posts: 8; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


Mind pointing out specifically in Coburn's amendment to S. 22 of HR 1249 that lets congress control the fee money instead of the Director?

First to invent/file: Both have situations where big business gets ahead. Usually it's the arguments over things such as affidavits to inventing prior to filing that cost extra.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 19:13

51. jbash (Posts: 339; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


I give up trying to copy and paste sec 22 paragraph 2 on my wifes touchpad(what did you expect for $100 lol).

anywho it basically says that any additional money that isn't appropriated by congress will go in to the USTPO Reserve. So funding as it currently stands will not change. Its only directed towards unspecified surplus. And when has anything in recent memory been in surplus in the US govt?

as far as both situations being better for big business I agree. The wording just makes it sound like they added an express lane for larger corporations like IBM, Microsoft, Apple, etc.

posted on 10 Sep 2011, 09:19

53. ScienceLion (Posts: 8; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


I know that before, funds weren't supposed to be diverted. There's language in there that the reserve fund is only to be used for things related to patents. I can see a loophole in the part about "administrative costs related to patents". People point fingers at where the diversions come from, but never where the diversions go to...

And yes, fast-track probably costs money. But money helps reduce pendency.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 09:12 4

20. Sniggly (Posts: 6819; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Well. It remains to be seen whether this will actually solve anything. Apple obviously only respects their own patents and no one else's.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 16:49

46. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


No wonder Sniggly is the King of Putting his Foot in his Mouth here on phonearena. Apple is like any other company, it win some and it loses some. And when Apple loses patent cases, it has paid. Apple respects the patent process and the court system.

Lastly, if Apple didn't acquire patents to defend against patent trolls, other companies wouldn't have joined forces with Apple to bid on portfolio of patents.

posted on 10 Sep 2011, 00:02

52. Sniggly (Posts: 6819; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Ardent, for someone who calls out others for getting facts wrong, you've just committed a critical error. Apple has made exactly one patent payment in the mobile industry in the past several years, which was to Nokia, and only after a dragged out lawsuit. They have flatly refused to pay anyone else who has brought patents to bear against them, the biggest offense being their refusal to pay anything to Motorola. Hence the lawsuits against them. In the meantime, they've sued the s**tnuts out of everyone else for patent violations, when some of those companies are clearly willing to pay royalties to other companies, like HTC's royalty payments to Microsoft.

So despite your ignorant stance, my statements here are grounded in truth. So f**k off and don't you dare comment in reply to me again unless it comes in the form of an apology.

posted on 10 Sep 2011, 14:41

54. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


Here's why Sniggly IS IN FACT the king of putting his foot in his mouth!!!

Sniggly wrties: "...you've just committed a critical error. Apple has made exactly one patent payment in the mobile industry in the past several years, which was to Nokia, and only after a dragged out lawsuit. They have flatly refused to pay anyone else who has brought patents to bear against them, the biggest offense being their refusal to pay anything to Motorola. Hence the lawsuits against them. "

Sniggly, do you have a brain? If so, could you use it for a second. Haven't you heard the case about Personal Audio suing Apple for the second time after Personal Audio won a $8 million patent judgement against Apple. I guess the $8 million paid by Apple doesn't count. BTW, the court threw out the Personal Audio's second lawsuit since the $8 million award grants Apple a license for ALL future products, respectively.

Sniggly's comment of "my statements here are grounded in truth..." is just a sorry ass example of hubris. I can't believe Sniggly is such a f**k'n moron!!

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 11:28 1

26. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6263; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


This isn't going to stop APPLE to sue GOOGLE. They should pass something bout APPLE suing every damn company around the globe

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 11:28 1

27. snowgator (Posts: 3200; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


"Opponents to the legislation, including the National Small Business Association, point out that it favors big corporations which will might be able to block smaller business by just flexing their patent muscle."

This concerns me. I hate the patent wars, and despise the fact that the threat of banning devices has become very real. It is not just Apple- Microsoft has threatened to go after Motorola as well. But the idea of creating a system that may help stifle smaller companies from growing due to existing patents giving an advantage to the multibillion dollar companies is worth worrying over. Hopefully, this is only the start of the reform, and not just a quick fix never to be looked at again.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 15:34

43. ScienceLion (Posts: 8; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


It does, and it doesn't. Everyone argues that it hurts them, unless it heavily is in their favor.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 17:09

48. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


I want to add that when Google's Kent Walker posted a blog about cry me a river because Google is a small company and has a small patent portfolio, it came across as oleganious and unctuous. Nothing is stopping Google from doing the right thing: (a) licensing the patent or (b) invent something to get around an existing patent.

Here's my story. Company A acquired a patent and changed the competitively landscape. The other companies each tried to come up with an competing product, were sued, lost in court, and abandoned their products, respectively. My patent got around Company A's patent and Company A was pissed. However, getting a patent and commercializing that patent was two different things. By then Company A was too large and their standard was too well established to be materially challenged. However, my point still has merit.

Patents are about INNOVATION, not stifling competition. No one has a monoploy on ideas. With technology changing all the time, it further adds to my point.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 18:14

49. ScienceLion (Posts: 8; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


If Company A invented it first, they're the innovators. If you mean they bought, then the innovation was rewarded to the inventor by that purchase.
Stifling...kind of. You talk about getting around them, essentially innovating around them.

If no one has a monopoly on ideas, then every small business would be squashed by the larger one.

Each time technology changes, it's a new innovation.

Wheres the lack of innovation? They say necessity is the mother of invention.

posted on 10 Sep 2011, 19:51

55. jbash (Posts: 339; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


who would of thought a bunch of phone geeks like us would have such an intelligible and lengthy discussion on patent reform

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 11:36 1

28. gallitoking (Posts: 4684; Member since: 17 May 2011)


fandroids wants to stop the patents war... and the answer is very simple.... listen I will even spell check.,........ ready..... stop copying.... is that simple... please forward this to Samsung.... since you guys must work for them as defend them with heart and soul...

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 14:07

37. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


remind me of this comment when iOS ginger-apple 5 launches.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 14:31

39. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Samsung copies so hard its insane.

And by the way remixfa its a bigger deal when you copy design then when you copy a feature. When apple copies the notification system there is no other way to implement discrete notifications. Its like copying the app store with the market there is no other way to have a app store. Those things its ok to copy features that can't be implanted in a different way. However when samsung copies someone its just really blatant and very obvious they are just trying to steal apple's idea.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 11:47

30. waveydavey (unregistered)


I'd just liek to clear something up here. Peopel on this site often throw around the term patent troll, and I get the sense from the context of those remarks that this term is oft-misundestood. A patent troll is a person or business that purchases a patent it's current holder with the express intent to litigate and make money from infringements on this patent. Apple has filed many (if not all) of the patents at the core of this issue, so they are not, in the truest sense, patent trolls. Litigation happy, perhaps, but patent trolls they are not.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 12:07 1

31. Galen20K (Posts: 512; Member since: 26 Dec 2008)


what difference will it make, Apple will continue to abuse the Patent system as it's always done and will continue to pay officials off shadily to make sure they do go through.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 13:31 1

35. gallitoking (Posts: 4684; Member since: 17 May 2011)


dont hate the player.. hate the game...

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 14:09 2

38. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


/I\
.I
.I
.I
.I
.I

or the iDiots that have no purpose but to be thread filler and never have a point.

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