Last night, the Senate voted 89-9 to pass H.R. 1249, commonly referred to as the America Invents Act, which seeks to introduce vast changes to the current patent system in the U.S. The most notable change will be moving from a “first-to-invent” to a “first-inventor-to-file” system, placing more emphasis than ever on the need to move quickly to file patent applications. Other notable provisions include: allowing third party submissions of prior art during prosecution of applications, prioritized examination option for patent applications, post-grant review of patents, inter partes review replacing interference proceedings, derivation proceedings, an increase in many fees charged by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”), prohibition of patents for business methods on tax strategies and human organisms, allowing for virtual marking, revamping standards for false marking claims, some diversion of USPTO fees, and additional programs and studies for the USPTO.
Since the bill was passed without amendment (the amendments proposed by Senators Sessions and Cantwell were not passed, and the amendment by Senator Coburn was tabled), the bill will now go to President Obama for consideration and signature. His approval is expected. Accordingly, this bill could become law in a matter of days.