The American Intellectual Property Law Association issued a statement endorsing "the main thrust" of the National Acadamy of Scienes Report entitled â€œA Patent System for the 21st Centuryâ€� in each of the seven areas where recommendations have been made:
- The patent system should remain open-ended, unitary and flexible so that,
wherever â€œprogress in the useful artsâ€� might lead mankind, a vigorous and
effective patent system can follow. No changes in the existing patent law are
needed to achieve this end. Neither the AIPLA nor the NAS Report endorses any
changes to the patent law in this regard.
- A core feature of the patent laws should be a set of vigorously applied criteria for
patentability, and AIPLA agrees with the NAS Report that the non-obviousness
standard should be vigorously applied. In this respect, however, non-obviousness
is no different from the other patentability requirements; all must operate with
vigor for the patent law to promote progress in the useful arts. That said, AIPLA
does not agree that reinvigoration of the non-obviousness law is now necessary.
Rather, what is needed is a consistent application of all the requirements for patent
validity. Achieving this consistency depends in part upon a U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office with sufficient resources and capabilities to guarantee that this
can happen. The NAS Report does not recommend any statutory change to the legal standard for assessing non-obviousness and AIPLA concurs that none is
- Decisions of patent examiners to issue patents should be subject to an open review
process in which the public can participate. AIPLA supports the conclusion of the
NAS Report that an effective post-grant opposition system needs to be instituted.
However, based upon global experience with such proceedings, a post-grant
opposition mechanism must be carefully constructed, adequately resourced by the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and appropriately constrained. It should
achieve a balance between the interests of the patent owner in a final
determination of patent property rights and the interests of the public in the prompt
elimination of erroneously granted patents.
- A predicate to the more effectively functioning patent system is a more effectively
functioning U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A key to a more effective Office
lies in adequate funding levels, an improved mechanism for financing the
operations of the Office, and a more effective business planning process. AIPLA
wholeheartedly endorses the NAS Report recommendation that the Officeâ€™s
capabilities must be strengthened. Doing so depends upon funding and financing
reforms that will make possible effective business planning. Creating and
enhancing capabilities of the Office is essential to the successful implementation
of a new post-grant opposition procedure.
- Scientific, research, or other experimental activities that allow a patented invention
to be better understood, more fully developed, or further advanced should be
exempt from patent infringement. Codifying such an exemption as recommended
by the NAS Report, would remove the uncertainty that now exists over the manner
in which a patented invention can be used to better understand and/or extend what
- The cost of patent litigation, which itself renders many patents de facto
unenforceable, should be addressed through statutory changes recommended by
the NAS Report. These changes include elimination, limitation or modification of
current provisions of the patent law as they relate to willful infringement,
inequitable conduct, and the requirement to disclose the inventorâ€™s contemplated
best mode. While these changes may appear controversial to some inside and
outside the IP community, radical changes in the patent law are needed to control
the costs of all aspects of filing, procuring and enforcing patents.
- Substantive U.S. patent law should be radically simplified in the manner proposed
by the NAS Report. AIPLA supports adoption of a â€œbest practicesâ€� approach to
modernizing the U.S. patent system. These include adoption of a first-inventor-tofile
system, repeal of â€œloss of right to patentâ€� provisions, ending the exclusions to 18-month publication of pending patent applications, and removal of the â€œbest modeâ€� requirement. Such changes to U.S. patent laws would also have the salutary effect of further harmonizing U.S. patent laws with those of other advanced industrialized countries. The NAS Report makes a persuasive case for the need to change U.S. patent laws and to seek patent law harmonization internationally.