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America Invents Act

Photo showing President Barack Obama signing the America Invents Act into law September 16, 2011, at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia.

President Barack Obama signs the America Invents Act into law September 16, 2011, at Thomas Jefferson High School
for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia.

After six years of tireless efforts by the Congress, the Administration and stakeholders, the President signed into law the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) (Pub. L. No. 112-29) on September 16, 2011. The AIA supports the USPTO’s efforts to improve patent quality, reduce the backlog of patent applications, reduce domestic and global patenting costs for U.S. companies, provide greater certainty in patent rights, and offer effective alternatives to costly and complex litigation. It sets forth some of the biggest changes to the patent system in almost 200 years. It moves the invention precedence standard from first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system, which is more aligned with global IP standards. It also significantly moves the USPTO toward a more sustainable funding model (fee setting authority). It also provides enhanced proceedings for post-grant patent reviews. Some other key provisions of this groundbreaking Act:

  • Third party submissions of Prior Art
  • Priority Examination for Important Technologies
  • Supplemental Examination Procedure
  • Prior User Defense – expands defense to technologies beyond current business methods
  • Creates Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund for excess fees to be appropriated – reserved for Agency use and spending authorized in annual appropriations
  • Established the following new fees:
    • Post-grant review
    • Inter partes review
    • Preissuance submissions by a third party
    • Supplemental Examination
    • Derivation proceedings
    • Priortized Examination
  • Established a new definition and segment of applicants – micro entities that are a distinct subset of small entities for fee purposes
  • Provided the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences the following new review proceedings:
    • Derivation Proceedings
    • Inter partes review
    • Post grant review
    • Transitional program for covered business method patents
United States Patent and Trademark Office
Last Modified: 01/03/2012 14:04:41