US President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act act today, enacting the first patent overhaul in 50 years.
The act promises to streamline the backlogged US patent system by basing patent rewards on a first-to-file method. As it stood before the act, the US Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) awarded patents based on a first-to-invent method. This required the USPTO to perform extensive research to determine the validity of such inventions. Now whoever files first will get the patent.
“Reforming the U.S. patent system will enable businesses of all sizes to obtain clearer and more reliable intellectual property rights in a more expedient fashion, so they can attract investments, develop their products, and hire employees sooner,” according to the White House Blog.
The law also expands the review and challenge process, allowing third parties to challenge patents within 9 months of the initial filing.
Technology companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Intel have been asking the US government to modernize the patent system for six years now.
Horacio Gutierrez, Microosft’s vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing, said the law “will ensure that innovators in our troubled economy can benefit from a predictable and rational patent system, with new tools to eliminate patents that should not have issued and to speed the processing of patents that should be issued.”
President Obama said the law should help stimulate the economy by helping free up more than 1.2 million patents which are awaiting approval.
“Somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug,” Obama said. “We should be making it easier and faster to turn new ideas into jobs.”