Friday, April 20, 2007

U.S. considers patent reform legislation

Sources: Techworld (UK) ; Information Week (US)

The United States Congress is currently considering patent reform legislation. The so-called Patent Reform Act, which has been introduced in both the Senate and the House, has been welcomed both by the information technology (IT) industry as well as other nations. The changes would result in greater uniformity between United States patent laws and the patent laws of other countries. Three major changes in the current law include:

***Patents would be awarded to the party who files first, as opposed to the party that is the “first to invent.” Currently the United States is the only nation in the world to use the “first to invent” system.

***Damages available in infringement lawsuits would be limited.

***Introduction of a new process for questioning the validity of patents that have already been granted.

The biotech industry, while conceding that reforms to the law may be needed, expressed misgivings about the proposed statute. They assert that the proposed changes could hamper research and development, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector. Small inventors voiced similar concerns.

For discussion:

Is international finance and development driving a movement towards international uniformity in laws (as the proposed patent reform legislation would bring the U.S. into the same system used by the rest of the world)?

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