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Patents United States Your Rights Online

Patent Reform Bill Passes Senate 368

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 c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @12:16AM (#37348256)

    Supporters of the act contend that reforming the patent system will unlock innovation and produce jobs in an economy that is increasingly driven by intellectual property. Currently, there is a backlog of about 700,000 patents waiting for examination, and the next cellphone, incandescent lamp or miracle drug could be hidden in that pile, supporters said.

    Looking the waste in the current smart-phone patent "compulsive wars", I think the bottleneck in invention (and job creation) is NOT in first-to-invent vs first-to-file (the current battle would have happened in both "first-to..." strategies). Look, Europe is driven by the "first-to-file" for quite a while: did this stop Apple to block Samsung tablets/phones (or whatever) in Germany?

    I don't see how's this one a step forward in the "job creation" direction (not says that is not, just saying that I need some explanations. Somebody care to explain?).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 09, 2011 @12:38AM (#37348350)

    What matters is what the aristocracy would like to see. Which is precisely what the America Invents Act delivers.

    Ideas are valuable. Therefore, the aristocracy wants to control them. If this slows innovation down to a snail's pace, eliminates jobs, and weakens America's position as a world power, so be it.

    And before anyone explains to me that offering patents creates an incentive to invent, just stop. Take a look at how patents are actually used in practice. They empower wealthy corporations to set up barriers-to-entry by making it so expensive to innovate that only the wealthy corporations can do it...and of course they do very little of it because the RnD is expensive and the enterprise too risky.

  • by xkr ( 786629 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:04AM (#37348472)
    The patent office makes a profit -- over $1 billion dollars profit, in fact. Money that goes into the US Treasury for congress to spend how it likes. The patent bill just passed raises patent "fees" by 15% immediately. These are only partially fees, because of the excess. Now there is more excess. This is simply a tax on innovation. There is simply no other way to look at it. Where are all those Republicans who said, "no new taxes?" Where are the democrats who said they support innovation in this country.

    When Canada passed the exact same change 10 years ago (changing from first-to-invent to first-to-file) independent inventor applications dropped by 50% and have never recovered. This bill was pushed entirely by large corporations who don't want to pay the real innovators for their inventions.

  • by markkezner ( 1209776 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:11AM (#37348500)

    You should write your congress critter about it.

    Here is how they voted [senate.gov]

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:12AM (#37348512)
    That favors large companies over small inventors. One of the points of the patent system is that it allows people to get investors to build a prototype without giving their idea away. Without that, Uber Corp just takes the idea and develops it them selves, originator gets nada.
  • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @01:48AM (#37348618) Homepage Journal

    >>In what way do patents, in ANY form, foster innovation?

    I wouldn't bother going to the time and effort to bring a super cool new product (like, let's say, a hula hoop) to market if it was just going to get ripped off by a large corporation that has the resources to dump imitations at a loss until I go out of business.

    The founding fathers understood this: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    Sure, there have been inventions and discoveries in the past, but they've been faster and more impressive under our current patent regime than at any time before.

  • Re:It's About Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sun ( 104778 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @02:16AM (#37348730) Homepage


    The main difference this brings is that you cannot publish something prior to patenting it, as your own publishing can act as prior art, invalidating your own patent. This means that you cannot take something published, say "hey, this would actually make a nice patent", and go around and patent it. You'd be committing fraud when signing the piece of paper saying that, as far as you know, the invention is novel.

    People here confuse "first to invent" with "prior art". If something is published, it is unpatentable, no matter which system you use. First to file encourages early filing, as if you keep things secret, someone else might file a patent (due to unrelated invention), and you'd be left with nothing. This means you need to either publish (and prevent everyone, yourself included, from monopolizing it) or patent it early (a provisional is fine, so small inventors can still participate, provided they can spare $110).

    Under the current system, patents could surface quite late in the game. So long as you have some proof that the patent was in progress, you could wait until someone else published it, and then run off to the patent office and patent it. That makes no sense. The purpose (original one) of the patent system was to encourage inventors to publish their inventions.


  • by alannon ( 54117 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @02:55AM (#37348862)

    There seem to be a lot of people in this thread saying, "Oh no! Prior art is dead!"
    All this actually means is that somebody can no longer invent (or CLAIM have invented) something and then KEEP IT A SECRET (not sell, publicly demonstrate, file for a patent, etc...) and then, later on, after somebody else files for the patent, say, "Hey! I invented that %d years ago!" Right now, it seems to be pretty common practice for corporations to attempt to 'manufacture evidence' of non-public prior art. It seems like this would simplify patent disputes.

  • by tragedy ( 27079 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @03:06AM (#37348908)

    Interesting. I just looked for information on a patent on the hula hoop and found this article [history.com] with this paragraph in it:

    Melina and Knerr were inspired to develop the Hula-Hoop after they saw a wooden hoop that Australian children twirled around their waists during gym class. Wham-O began producing a plastic version of the hoop, dubbed "Hula" after the hip-gyrating Hawaiian dance of the same name, and demonstrating it on Southern California playgrounds. Hula-Hoop mania took off from there.

    Hurray for patents then. Hurray for intellectual property in general. Stealing ideas from the public domain, staking an unfair claim on them, and profiting from day one.

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @04:15AM (#37349146) Homepage Journal

    The worst part is the patent lists the basic fundamental idea which you know is sound, simple and will work in the end once the obstacles are out of the way. And 98% of the work (and cost) is removing these obstacles, solving all the little caveats, to get it working.

    Nuclear reactor? Trivial. Stack some radioactives, run water through them, blow the resulting steam at turbines. Easy-peasy. I can draw the schematics in 5 minutes and submit the patent application tomorrow. Now for details like stopping the core from overheating, dealing with pressures of thousands atmospheres, cooling tons of water per second before it returns into the system, stopping the radioactivity from leaking... Let someone take care of that and I'll just reap profits from my patent application.

  • by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @07:27AM (#37349832)

    Fuck you! I do research and invent things.
    I don't patent them, I publish them. And I don't do that for profit, but out of curiosity and interest.

    This belief that people do things for material profit only is a cancer of the mind and needs to die. For the record, removing the incentive of work through higher taxes is a good thing: filters out the greedy bastards and lets through the passionate.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @09:45AM (#37350810) Homepage Journal

    and this is a good first step believe it or not

    It isn't a good first step. It's a step in the wrong direction. First to invent allows the entity who thought of it first to get the patent once they can afford to jump the huge financial barriers to patenting; First-to-file allows the entity with more money to get the patent. This hugely favors corporations over individuals. Which, of course, is why they did it.

    And while patents may encourage (late, mostly useless) disclosure, I reject outright the idea that this is superior to requiring inventors throughout the economy because of a need to reinvent. Trade secret is not only superior for most inventions, it can last a lot longer; but on the other hand, if the invention is critical, it's worth re-inventing (and knowing it can be done, or what the goal is, is often more than enough, which ought to be a complete red flag that an idea isn't worthy of legal protection anyway.)

    I think the barrier to a patent ought to be *huge*. You should be able to show that creating the invention required X resources only available with significant financial backing, and that patent ought to expire when it has recouped something like 2x that expenditure in gross receipts from its own sales, or if you fail to bring the idea physically to market within 1 year.

    The current system is nothing but a mutual corporate and attorney blow job fest. The only thing it "fosters" is exclusion of the little guy from huge swaths of the economic creation game. But that is something it does extremely well.

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