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Thursday, 19 April 2007

US patent law reform is on the way

Dennis Crouch's invaluable Patently-O blog has put together here a very useful set of resources and introductory comments on the Patent Reform Act 2007, introduced yesterday in both Houses of the US legislature. Proposals include acceptance of the "first-to-file" principle - i.e. that the patent goes to the first person willing to disclose his invention in return for a limited monopoly, rather than to the real inventor - and a substantial rewriting of the principles by which patent infringement damages are calculated. In particular, the ability to recover damages will be linked to the economic value of the improvement disclosed in the patent when compared to the prior art.

At this stage the IPKat's katty little cranium hasn't quite taken this in, but he senses that this will be a major casus belli in the US courts. Prior art is already raked over in order to establish novelty and non-obviousness; it may also curl the edges of the file wrapper as the applied-for monopoly is trimmed to fit the gaps left to it by the prior art - and now it will be under the forensic microscope again. Merpel is glad to see the elimination of interference proceedings and the introduction of post-grant oppositions, but hopes that the latter will be dealt with more swiftly than those before the European Patent Office.

Other comments from GenEngNews, Coalition for Patent Fairness, The Salt Lake Tribune and BetaNews

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