When President Obama took office, he made overhaul of the patent system one of his top priorities. New innovations and ideas play a crucial role in creating American jobs, stimulating our economy, and remaining globally competitive.
And it was two years ago today that the president signed the America Invents Act (AIA) into law, setting in motion the most significant changes to the U.S. patent system since 1836. In just two years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) implementation of AIA has contributed to a more internationally harmonized, more predictable, and more flexible patent system for the United States, and one that is much more responsive to 21st century realities.
USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea marked the anniversary during a public forum at USPTO’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va., today. The meeting served as an opportunity to bring stakeholders together with USPTO experts to address and answers questions on AIA provisions.
Perhaps the biggest change to the patent laws was the transition from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-inventor-to-file” system. This change better aligns U.S. patent law with other patent systems throughout the world. It also simplifies the process of acquiring rights while also supporting innovators—both large and small—as they acquire venture capital, begin manufacturing their innovations, and seek out both domestic and foreign markets.
The AIA also provided the USPTO with tools to facilitate faster processing of patent applications. The USPTO’s Track One program helps decrease application pendency by giving inventors a fast track to a final decision. It currently averages a six months for the entire process, compared to an overall total pendency of 29.5 months for patent applications not filed through the program.
Patent quality will also continue to improve with the “pre-issuance submission” provision in the AIA, which allows third parties to submit prior art. Resolving disputes about patent rights earlier in the process, with greater efficiency and less cost, adds greater certainty to the American patent system.
The America Invents Act also called for the creation of satellite offices outside of the Washington, DC area to better serve the needs of entrepreneurs nationwide. The USPTO has opened temporary satellite spaces in Dallas, Denver, and Silicon Valley—all of them staffed with Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges working to reduce an inventory of appeal cases. A permanent office also opened in Detroit in July 2012, with both PTAB judges and patent examiners hard at work.
At the end of the day, partnerships, quality service, and frequent stakeholder engagement and input are what make the Department of Commerce’s USPTO a successful agency. You can learn more about USPTO’s plans for continued AIA implementation on its website, and find out how it helps the nation’s inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs thrive, drive economic growth, and help ensure the U.S. remains competitive in today’s global economy.
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