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USPTO Implements Landmark Patent Reforms

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

24 September 2012

The most significant reform to the United States patent system in more than a century has taken a major step forward, as numerous provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011 have entered into effect.

It is expected that the new rules will spur innovation and economic growth by streamlining the patent application process and introducing new procedures to ensure patent quality. In fact, seven more reforms to US patent law went into effect one year after the signing of the bipartisan patent reform legislation by President Barack Obama on September 16, 2011.

The new rules include three new administrative trial provisions – an inter partes review, a post-grant review, and the transitional program for covered business method patents - will offer third parties timely, cost-effective alternatives to district court litigation to challenge the patentability of an issued patent.

In addition, there is now a supplemental examination provision, allowing applicants to submit additional information relevant to the patentability of an issued patent to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as well as an inventors oath and declaration provision that for the first time allows assignee filing of a patent application. Also, the citation of prior art and written statements provision will enable the USPTO to treat the claims in a patent consistent with how a patent owner represents its claims to the courts or in other USPTO proceedings.

“These new AIA provisions now in effect give us tools to deliver cutting-edge technologies to the marketplace sooner, further reducing the backlog of patent applications, and getting high-quality patents issued faster,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, David Kappos.

With the new rules in effect, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board also came into being, having been reconstituted by the AIA from the previous review board, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.

It was recorded that a number of other AIA provisions have already begun the implementation process - adjustments that enabled the USPTO to immediately hire new examiners, institute new patent acceleration tools and aggressively modernize its IT infrastructure.

Other provisions of the AIA will go into effect on March 16, 2013, including the shift to a first-inventor-to-file system harmonizing the US system with most industrialized nations. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has been published proposing the new rules and the final rule for the new Derivation Proceeding, to ensure that the first inventor to file obtains the patent, has already been published.

TAGS: business | patents | law | intellectual property | legislation | patent search | United States | regulation

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