Patent reform means far-reaching consequences for inventors


Paul J. Sutton

On September 16, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into US law HR 1249, which is also called the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.

This reform of the US Code, Title 35, promises to have far-reaching consequences for individual inventors, small businesses and large corporations. It will have profound effects upon how US patent applications are prepared, and how US patents are obtained, licensed and enforced.

While most changes in these patent laws will take effect a year from signing, on September 16, 2012, some important changes took effect upon President Obama’s signing, including litigation-related provisions and a brand new criterion affecting inter partes re-examination proceedings.

Other fee-related changes took effect on September 26, including a 15 percent surcharge on many, if not most, US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees and requests for expedited examination. One highly controversial provision, the ‘first-to-file’ provision, as well as new post-grant review proceedings, will not take effect for 18 months, on March 16, 2013. Post-grant reviews of categories of business method patents can be made on or after September 16, 2012.

patent reform, USPTO, Interference Proceedings