Patent reform is something that seems to come alive and then die off. The American Invents Act (AIA) was legislation that was passed on September 16, 2011 by the Obama Administration. In the last 4 years, more and more of its respective sections have been made effective and apparent that there is much more work that needs to be done to tidy up the intellectual property arena in our nation and globally.
Key Points of the AIA
The overburdened USPTO has struggled to wade through the constant influx of applications and as a result, lawsuits have flared up like wildfires with major companies like Google, Samsung and Apple and others duking it out in judicial rings over who is infringing on whose IP rights. So, the AIA comes in and attempts to squirt a garden hose at a major state of emergency. Here are some of the changes now current:
- First Inventor to File (FITF) is the major overhaul that addresses who has the right to the patent. Under this new expansion of patent reform, it is the person who files first, not the person who has the invention or idea and then files at a later date. While this is more in line with the rest of the world, it is controversial and may hinder smaller businesses or individuals who need time to come up with the money.
- There is now a penalty for paper applications. All applications must be submitted via electronic process or they are subject to a $400 penalty in addition to the application fee.
- Satellite Offices have since been established to help with the overburden. Detroit, Denver and Silicon Valley all have been opened. The Dallas, TX office will open in November to ensure all time zones have representation by the end of this year.
- A prohibition is in place to the patenting of human organisms. Your guess is as good as anyone’s until there are cases that arise to force the courts to define ‘human organisms’.
There are dozens of other sections within the legislation that no doubt are rippling out to affect change and only time will continue to tell what it is actually accomplished.
American Invents Act in 2015
Most of the AIA has been enforced and is still making its way into the normal routine of applying for patents, trademarks, and such, but there is still a huge mess from intellectual property fires that may just need to burn out in the court of law until they get resolved and patent reform takes a much needed role center stage in congress. 2014 was a great year for the USPTO with new satellite offices and a “road show tour” in six major cities to host panels for discussion on how the AIA applies in practice, but the trolls are still lurking.