US Senate passes patent reform bill

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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42 Comments

1. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 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"

3. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 2011

That line ultimately made me smile very wide. . .

6. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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

9. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 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.

10. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 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. . .

17. ScienceLion

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

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

25. ant0nthegreat

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

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

32. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 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.

33. homineyhominey

Posts: 29; Member since: Mar 10, 2011

Wow, you calling someone a troll. Original

29. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 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.

41. ScienceLion

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 09, 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.

44. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 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.

4. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 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.

5. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 2011

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

16. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 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.

18. ScienceLion

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 09, 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.

45. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 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.

7. pongkie

Posts: 663; Member since: Aug 20, 2011

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

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.

15. jbash

Posts: 345; Member since: Feb 07, 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.

21. ScienceLion

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 09, 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.

40. jbash

Posts: 345; Member since: Feb 07, 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! =)

42. ScienceLion

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 09, 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.

51. jbash

Posts: 345; Member since: Feb 07, 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.

53. ScienceLion

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 09, 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.

20. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 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.

46. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 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.

52. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 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.

54. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 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!!

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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