Patent Reform: Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of the America Invents Act
On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed into law  one of the most significant legislative reforms to the patent system in our Nation’s history. The America Invents Act  was passed with the President’s strong leadership last year, after nearly a decade of effort.  A year later, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is implementing the legislation  in a manner that makes it easier for American entrepreneurs and businesses to bring their inventions to the marketplace sooner, converting their ideas into new products and new jobs. It will help companies and inventors avoid costly delays and unnecessary litigation, and let them focus instead on innovation and job creation. As a number of important provisions of the law go into effect this week, we can already see substantial progress towards the law’s goals. Patent applications filed today will take nearly 40 percent less time to receive an initial patentability determination on their innovation compared to January 2009. The new Track One program  provides a fast-track option for processing within 12 months, and offers discounts for small inventors. And the backlog of patent applications has been reduced to its lowest point in years. The USPTO’s continued focus on improving patent quality  will be aided by new trial proceedings that provide an affordable alternative to litigation to review the merits of existing patents.  A final decision in each case will be issued in less than a year. The USPTO has also published for review a proposed fee schedule  that will expand an existing 50 percent discount on patent application fees for small entities. A new program for micro-entities—individuals or very small enterprises— offers a 75 percent fee discount.  A USPTO-driven pro bono program—launched first in Minnesota and now being introduced in Colorado and California, with many more locations on tap for 2013—helps cash-strapped inventors receive the legal help they need to obtain patents.The USPTO will also open new satellite offices  in Denver, Silicon Valley, and Dallas-Fort Worth, in addition to the first satellite office in Detroit, Michigan  that opened in July 2012. These offices will help further reduce the patent application backlog and help local innovators raise capital and get their inventions to market more rapidly. read more
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