Late in the afternoon on Thursday, March 24, 2011, the purported patent reform bill from the House of Representatives began circulating. The House patent reform bill is largely identical to the Senate version – S. 23. There are some differences, one rather major difference, but the Senate first to file provisions remain intact. The House bill would still grant the Patent Office the right to use all of the funds collected, as did S. 23. The House bill also would grant the United States Patent and Trademark Office fee setting authority, as did S. 23, but then curiously goes on to set the fees that the USPTO charges. It seems unclear why on one hand you would set the fees and in another section of the bill say that the USPTO can vary any fees defined.
Aside from the minor differences in language that are largely differences without a distinction, the one big thing that the House bill would do is extend the prior user rights defense under 35 U.S.C. 273 to patent infringement to all patents and not just business method patents. Look for a big fight on that one. The other differences of consequence seem to be that the House of Representatives really likes the thought of adding language authorizing automatic stays of pending litigation, which the Senate does not include. Additionally, the House bill does not adopt the Senate’s language altering the residency requirement for Federal Circuit Judges.
There will be much time to debate the consequences of the House patent reform bill and the likelihood of some patent reform being enacted.
For more information on patent laws visit us New Product Consulting.