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Patents United States Your Rights Online

Patent Reform Bill Passes Senate 368

Posted by samzenpus
from the first-to-file dept.
First time accepted submitter nephorm writes "The Senate passed the first major overhaul of the nation's patent law in more than a half century by passing the America Invents Act. The legislation won overwhelming approval in an 89-9 vote. From the article: 'The America Invents Act switches the U.S. patent system from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file nation. It also sets up a new regime to review patents and gives the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office more flexibility to set and spend fees paid for by inventors to get patents and businesses to register trademarks.'"
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Patent Reform Bill Passes Senate

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  • by Divebus (860563) on Friday September 09, 2011 @12:26AM (#37348300)

    I'd like to see the old "first to show the damned thing working" system come back. Ideas are one thing, but there's nothing like a working sample. No ambiguity if you can/can't show it, no pie-in-the-sky "inventions" that lay in wait in patent trolls' filing cabinets.

    The people who have no resources to actually create their idea may be subject to someone else capitalizing on it, but I can see a robust VC or incubator lab market growing out of the need to show the device in action. Contracts would be between the idea person and the VC or lab and won't dirty up the patent system.

  • Re:Wait.. what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MimeticLie (1866406) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:01AM (#37348460)

    I'm not American

    Then you should know that most of the world is first-to-file rather than first-to-invent. This does the opposite of what you claim: small inventors no longer have to worry about being taken to court and having to prove that they invented it first; now as long as there wasn't prior art, they're in the right.

    Now if we can just do something about software patents, we might have a decent system.

  • by slippyblade (962288) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:10AM (#37348496) Homepage
    In what way do patents, in ANY form, foster innovation? Strangely enough, there have been thousands of years of inventions without patents. I've never seen a single shred of evidence that patents do anything other than stifle creativity and lead to competition by litigation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:11AM (#37348502)

    Look, read and understand this:

    http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm [ucla.edu]

    Patents do not and have never incentivised innovation. That's just a "lie to children" used as an excuse for their existence.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:45AM (#37348614)

    Assuming that they're doing their job, which conventional wisdom says they haven't been.[*]

    They have not been because it's been an almost impossible task to keep up.

    The new bill helps in two ways:

    1) Since you don't care anymore who thought of an idea first, you only need to see if the idea exists in the market or has already been filed to dismiss. Before even if someone filed earlier it COULD be they thought of it later... or the guy filing thought of the idea before the thing on the market arrived.

    2) I'm weak on this point but basically it allows outside entities to contest bad patents instead of just the patent holder. Now the EFF and the FSF can go to down striking down the evil before us.

    And still won't, unless the bill vastly increases the funding for patent examiners.

    You know what? It actually DOES do that. Because now the patent office gets to keep application fees. They didn't before? Nope, went into the general pool to pay for the growing SS or a new airport in Nowhereville dedicated to the state senator.

    It's just that it's a lot more lucrative for qualified people to work in industry than at the Patent Office.

    Perhaps they can pay examiners more now that they get to keep application fees.

    This is really a decent overhaul, better than we could expect from all the infighting and bickering going on.

  • by dizzysoul (2275254) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:46AM (#37348616)
    I remember the idea of "first to file" (FTF) being explained to me in the past, although I don't rember where or whom. Basically, FTF doesn't trump prior art. If someone invents something before you patent it, the patent is invalid. This doesn't change. One of the big litigation problems with "first to invent" (FTI) over FTF is that, when two companies claim the rights to have invented something first, it take a HUGE amount of digging, research, and legal discovery to figure out. Especially when companies keep secrets and have long R&D periods; it's a tangled mess to figure out the exact timeline that grants patent ownership to one company or another. With FTF, you don't have this problem, because its blatantly obvious who filed first, and prior art is easier to prove in court. IANAL, so correct me if I'm wrong!

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

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