Chicago Lawyers Divided Over Pending Patent Overhaul
The $12.5 billion deal of Google Inc to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc is proof of the great importance that businesses place on patents. However, there seems to be a problem with the U.S. patent system.
Inventors must three years on the average for their application for patent to be processed. This means there are inventions that have no certainty of a patent and are not attracting investment that can make them commercially viable. Without the needed protection to prevent theft of their inventions, it is not possible for startup companies to create the jobs needed to boost the struggling economy of the country.
For many years now, Congress has been putting into considerations some measures that would streamline the system, as well as ensure patent quality. Currently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is struggling to handle around 450,000 applications annually. After a controversial debate, the U.S. Senate has approved on Thursday the “America Invents Act.” Since the House of Representatives also passed an identical measure earlier this year, the bill will directly go to President Obama, who has signified his support.
The legislation has introduced some substantial changes. The one that is getting the most attention affects the way every inventor files for a patent. The measure would grant patents to the first inventors filing the applications, rather than require inventors to show proof that they were the first to develop such an innovation.
Another broadly discussed change is the creation of a post-grant review process, allowing others to challenge the patents administratively instead of litigation.
Chicago lawyers and academics seem to be divided on the issue whether such measure has the ability of cutting the red tape impeding innovation and economic growth in America.