One year after receiving President Obama's signature, the majority of reforms included in the America Invents Act have now taken effect. Earlier this week, new rules addressing both initial application processing and post-grant review were officially incorporated into U.S. patent law.
"These new AIA provisions now in effect give us tools to deliver cutting-edge technologies to the marketplace sooner, further reducing the backlog of patent applications and getting high-quality patents issued faster," said USPTO director David Kappos. "And that will translate into opportunity, growth and jobs for large and small innovators across America."
The implementation of three new trial provisions - inter partes review, post-grant review and a transitional program for covered business method patents - are expected to provide parties with a more affordable and efficient avenue for challenging the patentability of an invention. At the same time, finalization of the rules for citation of prior art will expand the type and scope of information a patent owner can include with his or her filing.
Similarly, the supplemental examination provision will allow parties to provide additional information related to an awarded patent so that officials may "consider, reconsider or correct" aspects of the filing. This is expected to improve overall patent quality and limit the incidence of inequitable conduct challenges down the road.
The transition to a first-inventor-to-file system, a cornerstone element of the AIA, will go into effect March 16, 2013.