U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is calling on members of the House of Representatives to support the compromise contained in the manager's amendment to H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act, to ensure that critical changes to our nation's patent system are allowed to proceed.
At the heart of the issue is protecting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from having the fees it collects on patent applications diverted to other agencies. "Fee diversion," as it is known, has prevented PTO from hiring the personnel needed to dig out from under the backlog of 1.2 million patent applications. Currently, it takes three and one-half years for a patent to be approved.
"The reforms contained in the America Invents Act are critical to restoring American competitiveness and leadership in the global economy," Senator Coons said. "This bill will create jobs by protecting and promoting American ingenuity. For years fee diversion has limited PTO's ability to grow to meet the demands placed on it by the boundless creativity of American inventors. The America Invents Act ends fee diversion and gives PTO the tools it needs to keep pace."
The Senate passed the America Invents Act with a 95-5 vote on March 8. The House began debate on the bill late Wednesday night.
"I urge my colleagues in the House to approve the manager's amendment introduced by Chairman Smith and to vote to support H.R. 1249 as quickly as possible," Senator Coons said Thursday. "I share Senator Leahy's view that, by segregating fees collected by PTO into an account for use only by PTO, it sufficiently prevents further fee diversion. Every day we wait to implement the America Invents Act is another day American inventions go unconsidered, unpatented, and un-marketed. Our country urgently needs the jobs this bill can help create, and I urge the House to pass it."