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What is the future of patent reform?

Reform fizzled out in Congress in the spring, is unlikely to make a resurgence in 2014

The America Invents Act  (AIA) is approaching its third anniversary, but it seems less and less likely that this edition of Congress is going to give it a younger sibling anytime soon. 

The AIA was signed into law in September of 2011, and represented the biggest overhaul of the U.S. patent system in decades. It brought the United States into alignment with most of the rest of the world, instituting a first-to-file system; putting emphasis on inter partes reviews, and making a host of other changes as well.

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Now, while companies and members of the patent bar are still trying to absorb and adjust to the changes brought on by the AIA, both Congress and the Executive Branch pushed for even more reform, reacting to what many saw as the economic threat of so-called “patent trolls.”

But, while there was a host of proposed legislation that would have addressed some of the biggest problems (or perceived problems) – an overabundance of demand letters, the infrequency of fee-shifting and more – those bills fizzled out. In May, Senator Patrick Leahy (D. Vt.), one of the architects of the AIA, officially pulled the plug on the most prominent of the proposed pieces of legislation.

Now, with mid-terms elections looming, the chance that patent reform will have a rebirth in Congress is slim. While there is a smaller bill still kicking around in the House of Representatives, experts believe that it will not be addressed until the start of the new Congress in 2015.

"When the bill died in the Senate, pretty much everyone involved in the debate either gave up and looked to the next Congress, or breathed a big sigh of relief,” Daniel Nazer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told The Wall Street Journal.

 

Senior Editor

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Rich Steeves

Richard P. Steeves is Senior Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he covers the intellectual property and compliance beats. Rich earned a B.A. in English Literature...

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