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Archived updates for Wednesday, July 20, 2005

CRS Reports on Proposed Patent Reform Legislation

On July 15, 2005, the Congressional Research Service of the U.S. The Library of Congress published "Patent Reform: Innovation Issues" (Order Code RL32996). The report examines the Patent Act of 2005, H.R. 2795, introduced in June 2005, which would arguably work the most sweeping reforms to the U.S. patent system since the nineteenth century. Among the more notable of these changes are a shift to a first-inventor-to-file priority system; substantive and procedural modifications to the patent law doctrines of willful infringement and inequitable conduct; and adoption of post-issuance opposition proceedings, prior user rights, and pre-issuance publication of all pending applications.

The authors conclude that many of these proposals, such as pre-issuance publication, prior user rights, and oppositions, have already been implemented in U.S. law to a more limited extent.

These and other proposed modifications, such as the first-inventor-to-file priority system and elimination of the best mode requirement, also reflect the decades-old patent practices of Europe, Japan, and our other leading trading partners. As well, many of these changes enjoy the support of diverse institutions, including the Federal Trade Commission, National Academies, economists, industry representatives, attorneys, and legal academics.

Other knowledgeable observers are nonetheless concerned that certain of these proposals would weaken the patent right, thereby diminishing needed incentives for innovation. Some also believe that changes of this magnitude, occurring at the same time, do not present the most prudent course for the patent system. Patent reform therefore confronts Congress with difficult legal, practical, and policy issues, but also with the apparent possibility for altering and potentially improving the legal regime that has long been recognized as an engine of innovation within the U.S. economy.

Get a free copy the report via the Patently-O Blog, and get more information on "The Meaning and Implications of the 2005 Patent Reform Proposals" via the Association of Patent Law Firms.
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