Earlier this week, U.S. Senators returned from their summer recess and began their latest session with the passage of the America Invents Act.
According to the Associated Press, this legislation represents the first significant change to American patent law in nearly 60 years. The importance of the provison was underscored by the 89-9 approval vote, a rare display of consensus in an increasingly partisan political climate.
"Today you passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a business as quickly as possible," remarked President Obama. "That's the kind of action we need."
In his latest column for InformationWeek, Nicholas Hoover sifted through the comprehensive legislation to identify some of the most significant changes that will affect the business community. Congress will now transfer its authority for determining patent fees to the Patent Office, although legislators will retain limited budgetary control. The bill also extends and simplifies the process through which a patent in dispute can be reexamined.
However, some say the AIA appears to have fallen short in several areas. According to Hoover, the bill has done little to address the polarizing matter of software patent propriety and also neglected to reform how damages are awarded during lawsuits.