New federal law aims to speed patent processThe America Invents Act, signed into law by President Obama on Sept. 16, will bring U.S. patent law closer to laws in the rest of the world, Chicago patent attorney Mark Bergner said.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
The America Invents Act, signed into law by President Obama on Sept. 16, will bring U.S. patent law closer to laws in the rest of the world, Chicago patent attorney Mark Bergner said.
The key change is granting patents to the “first to file” instead of the “first to invent.” Bergner explains it this way: Say you come up with an invention in your basement. A month later, Monsanto scientists come up with the same invention, but Monsanto files for a patent before you do. Under the old law, you still would get the patent, because you invented it first. Under the new law, Monsanto would get it, because they filed first.
The provision is controversial, with critics saying that it favors big corporations over the little guy. Realistically, though, the inventor who came up with the idea first was seldom able to prove it anyway, Bergner said.
“The statistics have generally shown that it’s so expensive to make that proof that very few people were able to take advantage of it,” he said.
The new law also seeks to beef up the Patent and Trademark Office by allowing it to keep revenue it generates from fees and use it to hire more staff.
The law is a move in the right direction, Bergner said.
“We’re modifying our patent system to look more like the rest of the world,” he said. “It will make it simpler to establish who’s entitled to get a patent.”