Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Patent Office Sours on Current Reform Bill

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Jon Dudas was on a conference call with reporters this week talking about the contentious patent reform bill currently in the Senate.
He said he supports patent reform, but can’t support this bill. Here are the highlights:
-He’s for a first-to-file provision, which would be an about-face to the nation’s long-standing first-to-invent paradigm. But it has to be “pure” first-to-file, meaning a first inventor to file. Most other countries use first-to-file and the USPTO is all about “harmonizing” patent systems. Would this create a rush to the patent office and trigger litigation?
-He supports changes to provide for a post-grant review process that allows judges wider discretion to evaluate disputes.
-He cited the Bush administration’s concerns about inadequate compensation for patent holders and the possibility the proposed reforms could promote infringement. Major high-tech companies argue that the current system awards out-sized monetary damages in relation to the value of a patent. But Dudas cited mainstream manufacturers, universities, bio-tech companies, small businesses, venture capitalists and, yes, independent inventors as among those who could be hurt by the reform bill, if enacted.
The Bush administration supports full funding of the USPTO. The 2009 budget request of about $2 billion is $159 million or 8 percent more than last years. The USPTO plans to hire 1,200 more patent examiners.

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