Small Business Reading Room

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Patent system changes maybe forthcoming

"This legislation is not an option, but a necessity,"
said U.S. Senate intellectual-property panel chariman, Patrick Leahy.

The 45-page bill, called The Patent Reform Act of 2006, proposes a number of changes to the way American patents are awarded and challenged.

Notable reforms include:

  • Shift to a "first to file" method of awarding patents, which is already used in most foreign countries, instead of the existing "first to invent" standard.

  • Establishment of a "postgrant opposition" system that would allow outsiders to dispute the validity of a patent before a board of administrative judges within the Patent Office, rather than in the traditional court system.

  • The placement of new restrictions on the courts where patent cases could be filed--an attempt at rooting out "forum shopping".

  • Limit the amount of damages for winners of infringement suits.

  • Change in the method used by the courts to calculate the royalties owed.

Let the lobbying begin!


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