A sizable minority of the United States Senate sent a letter to Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, pressing him to schedule a vote on a Bill introduced in April, 2010 that proposes changes to U.S. patent law. Click here to view a copy of the letter.
The Bill, entitled the “Patent Reform Act of 2010,” is a product of bipartisan efforts and proposes reform to decades-long established U.S. patent law. Proposals in the Bill include changing the United States policy of awarding patent protection to an inventor who can prove that he/she was the first inventor of something. The Bill proposes to change the U.S. first-to-invent system with a first-to-file system, which is more consistent with patent policy around the world, and would award patent protection to the first inventor who files a patent application rather than the person who was the actual first inventor.
Another major proposal in the Patent Reform Act of 2010 is a modification of the United States’ liberal one-year grace period. U.S. patent law, specifically 35 U.S.C. §102(b), currently that does not preclude patentability for an invention that was described in a printed publication, in public use or on sale more than one year prior to the date of the filing for a patent. The Bill proposes eliminating the one-year grace period unless the inventor was the first discloser. Other proposed revisions to current U.S. patent law include limiting rights to file a false marking claim to anyone who has “suffered a competitive injury,” which would significantly reduce the number of parties who would have standing to bring a false marking claim.
This continues Ostrolenk Faber's periodic reports on legislative efforts to reform U.S. patent law. Whether the proposed reform set forth in the Bill will be brought to a vote in the Senate soon, and chances for the Bill to become federal law are as uncertain. In any case, efforts to change U.S. patent law remain and do not seem to be going away. Click here to read the entire text of the Patent Reform Act of 2010.