President Obama Signs America Invents Act
With several prominent independent inventors on stage and in the audience, President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act into law on September 16, 2011. The legislation, which passed with broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate, represents the most significant reform of the U.S. patent system since 1836. "This much-needed reform will speed up the patent process so that innovators and entrepreneurs can turn a new invention into a business as quickly as possible," President Obama said.
Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos, independent inventor and co-creator of the sOccket Jessica Matthews and publisher of Inventors Digest Louis Foreman joined the president on stage. Warren Tuttle of the United Inventors Alliance, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Gary Michelson, and David Petite, founder, chair, and CEO of the Native American Intellectual Property Enterprise Council attended the event.
"We are excited about the challenges that lay ahead in implementing a law that gives the USPTO and our country the resources necessary to spur innovation and jobs," said Director Kappos on his blog. "I look forward to working with all of our stakeholders in implementing the America Invents Act and continuing our mission to build out the 21st century United States Patent and Trademark Office."
Louis Foreman, who is also the producer of the Emmy award-winning independent inventor PBS series, Everyday Edisons said, "This historic legislation is a win for independent inventors, small businesses and the country. We have taken a step in the right direction to improve our patent system and produce a catalyst that will create and encourage innovation, new start-ups, and jobs."
While the America Invents Act makes numerous changes to patent law, the changes will not go into effect overnight. The act provides for a staged implementation starting on the date of enactment and continuing over a series of months. Immediately, the America Invents Act will help independent and small entity inventors in three ways.
The America Invents Act established a fast track option for patent examination.
As of September 26, 2011, the USPTO is able to offer applicants an opportunity to have patent applications reviewed on an expedited basis, for a fee. Small entity and independent inventors receive a 50 percent discount on the $4800 fee for this new fast track option. Once the agency is able to set its own fees, micro-entities will receive a 75 percent discount on this fee. The fast track option reduces the wait time for examination by one-third-from an average of three years to an average of 12 months. Patent ownership is a critical factor that venture capital companies consider when investing in entrepreneurs who hope to grow their businesses. Therefore, prioritized patent examination will help.
It created an electronic filing incentive.
Starting November 15, 2011, everyone who uses paper filing will have to pay an additional $400, reduced to $200 for small entity filers. Filing applications electronically via the Electronic Filing System-Web (EFS-Web) offers you the ability to file patent applications and other patent documents in a fraction of the time and at substantially less cost than paper filings. You forgo printing, postage, courier costs, and you receive immediate notification that your submission has been received. Unlike paper filings, most new applications submitted electronically can be viewed in Private Patent Application Information (PAIR) within an hour after filing. As a result of the advantages offered by EFS-Web, 93 percent of new applications are filed electronically today. You can learn more about how to file electronically at EFS-Web.
The act's implementation will reduce the current patent backlog.
Because of certain favorable financial provisions such as the 15 percent surcharge, which became effective on September 26, 2011, the USPTO will be able to resume hiring new examiners and other personnel. These additional resources will allow the USPTO to continue to combat a backlog of approximately 680,000 patent applications and will significantly reduce applicant wait times.
As the USPTO moves forward to implement other provisions of the America Invents Act, the agency will be seeking extensive input from the independent and small entity inventor community. Everyone is encouraged to participate by submitting comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and can regularly track updates pertaining to the new law at the USPTO's America Invents Act online guide. Sign up for instant email notifications on any changes to the American Invents Act online guide by visiting our subscription center.
The USPTO also will be holding a series of webinars on the America Invents Act starting October 2011. Senior agency officials including Director David Kappos and Commissioner for Patents Robert Stoll will participate. Details about the webinars will be posted on uspto.gov in the near future.