President Obama signs 'America Invents' patent reform act into law

The America Invents Act, which passed through the final stages of Congressional approval one week ago was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Friday morning.

The Act represents the largest single overhaul to the U.S. patent system in almost 60 years, and is the result of more than a decade of legislation.

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According to the White House on Friday, the act will help businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs in four ways:

  • Speed- The new law establishes a "fast track" option for patent processing which has a guaranteed 12-month review turnaround. The average turnaround time in the traditional review process is three years, the White House said today.
  • A bigger USPTO- To tackle the immense patent backlog of nearly 700,000 existent applications (and the subsequent increase in filings expected from the new Act), the US Patent and Trademark Office will have more resources allocated to it.
  • Tighter Quality Control- Another product of the additional resources for the USPTO, the White House today said new quality management guidelines will "tighten [the USPTO's] standards for the issuance of patents," and allow patent challenges to be resolved in-house through expedited post-grant processes.
  • International Compatibility-- The new law turns the United States into a "First to File" system, which most of the rest of the industrialized world uses. Also, The Patent and Trademark Office has expanded "work-sharing" programs with other patent offices around the world so patent filers can get their patent approved simultaneously in the U.S. and abroad.

“I am pleased to sign the America Invents Act. This much-needed reform will speed up the patent process so that innovators and entrepreneurs can turn a new invention into a business as quickly as possible,” said President Obama. “I’m also announcing even more steps today that will help bring these inventions to market faster and create jobs. Here in America, our creativity has always set us apart, and in order to continue to grow our economy, we need to encourage that spirit wherever we find it.”

US Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra will be answering questions with USPTO Director David Kappos during an Open for Questions event on WhiteHouse.gov at 5:00 p.m. EDT today.

Questions can be sent via Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat, or through the White House Live Facebook App. The Q&A session can be watched on whitehouse.gov/live.

Photo: Vacclav/shutterstock

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