First one to the office gets the patent: House of Representatives passes change to patent procedure

Jul 14, 2011

Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would make the most radical changes to patent law that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has seen in 60 years. Backed by many Republicans and Democrats, as well as the White House, the bill will allow the first person who files an application—rather than the inventor—to receive the patent for a given product or procedure. Congress will also stop diverting millions of dollars from the Office’s revenue to other causes every year, a process which has created a shortage of money for evaluating patent applications. With a backlog of 700,000 applications and an approximate 3-year wait for consideration, many think it is time for a change. Supporters, who include companies such as Microsoft Corp., General Electric Co., Pepsico Inc., and Exxon Mobil Corp., say the changes will bring U.S. patent procedure up to date with that of other countries, spur innovation, create new jobs and make the nation more competitive. Opponents like the American Bar Association and American Civil Liberties Union say that the bill’s provisions are unconstitutional, as it doesn’t give inventors exclusive rights to their inventions for at least a limited amount of time, and question the good in changing guidelines that have worked relatively well for the past 220 years. Does the recently-passed House Bill adequately protect inventors, and will it really produce economic growth? And how does one invent something great anyway? Join Patt for a discussion about patent law and invention with expert Steven J. Paley, author of The Art of Invention: The Creative Process of Discovery and Design.

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