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Senate’s passage of America Invents Act streamlines process to benefit inventors, entrepreneurs

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) today hailed the passage of a critical patent reform bill that will support economic growth by simplifying the nation’s patent review system and increasing the competitiveness of American inventors overseas.

The Senate passed the America Invents Act (S.23) in a vote of 95-5.  The legislation marks the first meaningful reform of the U.S. patent system in nearly 60 years and, since it is self-funding, will not add a dime to the nation’s deficit.

“Innovation is at the heart of American job creation and our future economic success in a global economy,” said Shaheen.  “By making it easier for U.S. inventors, businesses and universities to secure patents and protect their ideas, this bill represents a significant step forward for our entire economy.”

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, technological innovation has been linked to three-quarters of the nation’s post-WWII economic expansion.  Yet the U.S. patent system is currently failing to further promote this growth.  More than 700,000 patent applications are presently awaiting review by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a backlog created by a lack of resources and procedural inefficiencies.  In New Hampshire alone, the number of patents pending approval is nearly triple the number granted in 2009.  By reducing inefficiencies, the America Invents Act will boost innovation, ensuring the United States will be able to compete with growing economies like China.

Under the legislation, the United States will transition to a “first-inventor-to-file” system, harmonizing America’s system with almost every other patent system in the worldThis new system will eliminate the need for complex and costly litigation proceedings currently used to settle first inventor disputes, which were an expensive deterrent for all but the most well-financed, commercially viable inventions. 

In addition, the bill takes a number of other steps to benefit taxpayers, improve patent quality, and make it easier for individuals and small businesses to protect their inventions. 

  • The America Invents Act will benefit taxpayers by prohibiting patents on tax strategies, which often lead to additional fees on taxpayers who are simply complying with tax laws.
  • By allowing the scientific community to weigh in on patent applications, much like amicus briefs to a court, patent examiners will have better information and valuable additional research which will enable them to grant higher quality patents. 
  • By establishing a new review system for patent challenges conducted by Administrative Patent Judges, the America Invents Act creates a more meaningful alternative to litigation that helps curb harassment of patent owners.

The America Invents Act now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.