The most significant reform to the U.S. patent system in more than a century is a major step forward as numerous provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 are now in effect. The new rules will spur innovation and economic growth by streamlining the patent application process and introducing new procedures to ensure patent quality. Seven reforms to U.S. patent law went into effect one year after the signing of the bipartisan patent reform legislation by President Barack Obama on September 16, 2011.
Some of the new rules include three new administrative trial provisions—inter partes review, post-grant review, and the transitional program for covered business method patents—will offer third parties timely, cost-effective alternatives to district court litigation to challenge the patentability of an issued patent; a supplemental examination provision that allows applicants to submit additional information relevant to the patentability of an issued patent to the Office in a new procedure that may protect the patent from an inequitable conduct charge; an inventors oath and declaration provision that for the first time allows assignee filing of a patent application; and a citation of prior art and written statements provision will enable the Office to treat the claims in a patent consistent with how a patent owner represents its claims to the courts or in other Office proceedings.Other provisions of the AIA will go into effect on March 16, 2013, including the shift to a first-inventor-to-file system harmonizing the U.S. system with most industrialized nations. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has been published proposing the new rules and the final rule for the new Derivation Proceeding to ensure that the first inventor to file obtains the patent has already been published.
To help educate innovators and inventors, the USPTO is hosting eight roadshows during September 2012 to share information about new final rules implementing provisions of the America Invents Act. The USPTO kicked off its roadshow series in Minneapolis and will end in New York City with stops in Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, and at its campus in Alexandria, Virginia. At these events, the USPTO will explain the final rules and answer audience questions. The roadshows are free and open to the public; pre-registration is not required.