updated 05:50 pm EDT, Thu June 23, 2011
Legislation aims to reduce application backlog
The US House of Representatives is considering new legislation that aims to reform current laws surrounding the patent system. The proposals, which are included in the America Invents Act, are designed to reduce the backlog in patent applications, bring the United States' filing methods in line with those of other countries, and help discourage patent trolls from taking advantage of the current laws to abuse the system.
"The current patent system is outdated and has become a barrier to innovation and job creation," says House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). "The America Invents Act creates a faster and more efficient process for the approval of good patents."
Representative Lamar points out that the average wait time between application submission and approval currently averages three years, while the last significant reform arrived nearly 60 years ago.
"The current system is bogged down by frivolous lawsuits and uncertainty regarding patent ownership," the Committee argues. "America’s innovators spend years and millions of dollars defending their claims to patent ownership."
Authors of the legislation suggest the antiquated system has served as a "barrier to innovation," as China this year is expected to surpass the US as the number one patent publisher for the first time in history.
The Committee suggests the bill has broad support from the industry, academic institutions, and independent inventors. The bill must still pass a final vote, which may occur before the end of this week. [via Associated Press]