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House takes up overhaul of nation’s patent system

Thu., June 23, 2011

WASHINGTON – The House on Wednesday took up the most far-reaching overhaul of the patent system in 60 years, a bill that leaders in both parties said would make it easier for inventors to get their innovations to market and help put people back to work.

The legislation, supported by the Obama administration and a broad range of business groups and high-tech companies, aims to ease the lengthy backlog in patent applications, clean up some of the procedures that can lead to costly litigation and put the United States under the same filing system as the rest of the industrialized world.

“If Congress is serious about economic growth and job creation, we must pass patent reform,” said Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The first major overhaul of the patent system since 1952 has faced resistance. A planned vote last week was put off after the Republican chairmen of the Budget and Appropriations committees objected to a critical element that would allow the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to keep all the user fees it collects.

The second pillar of the legislation is a provision that would switch the United States from the “first-to-invent” system now in effect to the “first-inventor-to-file” system for patent applications used by all other industrialized countries.


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