Sunday, June 9, 2554

House passes patent Bill approaching global Norm

The legislation also takes measures to help the underfunded United States Patent and Trademark Office facing a backlog of 1.2 million pending applications that forces inventors to wait three years to get a decision.

The vote was 304-117, more than 95-5 votes with which a similar Bill cleared the Senate in March. The two have yet to reconcile differences in their bills, which are supported by the White House, key enterprise groups and leaders from both sides who have hailed as a measure that would create jobs.

"This legislation modernizes our patent system to help create private sector jobs and keep America on the edge of innovation", Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said.

Before coming to a final vote, the home fans had to overcome challenges from opponents who claimed that the legislation violated the Constitution and makes it more difficult for individual inventors to prevail in disputes with major corporations.

There was also a strong opposition to a provision that would allow financial institutions to challenge patents on business methods, such as systems for process controls. Opponents said the provision amounted to a bailout for banks, but representative Robert Goodlatte, Virginia Republican and Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on intellectual property, said business method patents, a fairly recent phenomenon, were "a fundamental flaw in the system which is costing consumers millions every year."

An amendment to remove the section on business method patents was defeated 262-158.

The most significant change caused by law would put the United States under the same system for patent applications used by Europe and Japan, which encourage inventors who file their applications for patents before. Currently the United States it operates on a first to invent system that the President of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, said it was "outdated and dragged down from frivolous lawsuits and uncertainty on patent ownership".

A main opponent of the change, John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and former Chairman of the Committee on justice, said that the Bill "would allow the Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent for the first person who can win a race to the Patent Office, regardless of who is the inventor."

But Mr. Smith said that, for a fee of $ 110, an inventor may file a provisional application that would allow a year prepare a formal application. He said that could cost $ 5 million for legitimate inventors to defend against unwarranted lawsuits.

The Senate and the House will also have to work their differences on another important element of the Bill, how to finance the Patent Office.

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