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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: 813; 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: 813; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


That line ultimately made me smile very wide. . .

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 06:53 6

6. remixfa (Posts: 14327; 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, 07:10

10. XiphiasGladius (Posts: 813; 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, 11:41

29. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; 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, 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, 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: 2000; 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, 06:21 1

4. ardent1 (Posts: 2000; 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: 813; 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: 2000; 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: 2000; 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: 640; 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: 345; 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: 345; 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: 345; 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: 7305; 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: 2000; 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: 7305; 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: 2000; 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 (unregistered)


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

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