US Congress sends Obama major patent overhaul

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy, pictured in 2010. The US Senate Thursday passed legislation to drag the web of US patent laws into the Internet age and spur high-tech innovation, sending the measure to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The US Senate Thursday passed legislation to drag the web of US patent laws into the Internet age and spur high-tech innovation, sending the measure to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

In a rare show of bipartisan unity of purpose, the Democratic-held chamber voted 89-9 margin to approve the measure, which cleared the Republican-led House of Representatives by a similarly lopsided 304-117 margin earlier this year.

"This is bipartisan, commonsense legislation that will spur the innovation that drives the American economy," cheered Democratic Chairman Patrick Leahy, a key author of the legislation.

"The America Invents Act will ensure that inventors large and small maintain the competitive edge that has put America at the pinnacle of global innovation," he said, amid deep worries about 9.1 percent unemployment.

Leahy's main partner in the House, Republican Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith, called the vote "a victory for America's innovators and job creators who rely on our patent system to develop new products and grow their businesses."

Smith said the measure was "the most significant change to US in 175 years" and called it "one of the most significant jobs creation bills enacted by Congress this year."

The bill, which Obama was expected to sign quickly, shifts US patents from a "first to invent" to "first inventor to file" system while reducing a backlog in applications and curbing what its authors described as frivolous lawsuits.

A statement on the official website of Smith's committee warns that "this year, for the first time, China is expected to become the world’s number one patent publisher, surpassing the US and Japan in the total and basic number of patents."

"Our outdated has become a barrier to innovation," it says.

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not rated yet Sep 09, 2011
Well...better late than never!
Let's kill off those damned patent trolls and intellectual property carpet baggers who keep stealing and copying EVERYTHING anyone else does.
(Put real teeth and enforcement behind this one!)
Heck, the patent office is one of the few federal agencies that HAS ALWAYS made money...the FCC is another one.
With patent reform, maybe someone will make the patent office their own search engine and browser JUST for them and make the database open to peer-review. Make the whole process a lot more transparent. THEN if someone files a patent and after ten years, a patent troll tries to sue...too bad, so sad...you got nothing coming junior!!
word-to-ya-muthas