The Senate today passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (H.R. 1249), a bipartisan, bicameral bill that updates our patent system to encourage innovation, job creation and economic growth. The Senate passed the bill today by a vote of 89-9. The House overwhelmingly approved H.R. 1249 by a vote of 304-117 earlier this year.
Much-needed reforms to our patent system are long overdue. The last major patent reform was nearly 60 years ago. The House patent reform bill implements a first-inventor-to-file standard for patent approval, creates a post-grant review system to weed out bad patents, and helps the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) address the backlog of patent applications. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has led the effort on patent reform for six years.
Chairman Smith (R-Texas): "After more than six years of bipartisan efforts and negotiations, we have crossed the finish line on patent reform. Today's vote is a victory for America's innovators and job creators who rely on our patent system to develop new products and grow their businesses. These reforms constitute the most significant change to U.S. patent law in 175 years, since the Patent Act of 1836. And when President Obama signs the bill into law, H.R. 1249 will be one of the most significant jobs creation bills enacted by Congress this year.
"The America Invents Act creates a better patent system for inventors and innovative industries. I thank Chairman Leahy for working with me to improve and turn around the House patent reform bill. This is a true example of bipartisan success that will benefit the American people.
"Six years ago, industry leaders and American inventors came to Congress saying that the current patent system had become a barrier to the very innovation that drives our economy. The average wait time for patent approval in the U.S. is three years. The PTO has a backlog of 1.2 million patents pending approval. Time is money in America, and even more so for innovators who are forced to wait years before they can market and distribute their inventions. This puts American innovators at a competitive disadvantage in a global marketplace.
"H.R. 1249 brings our patent system into the 21st century, reducing frivolous litigation while creating a more efficient process for the approval of patents. These reforms will help the innovators and job creators of today launch the products and businesses of tomorrow."
Chairman Leahy (D-Vt.): "The America Invents Act is a true jobs bill at a time when we need it the most. After six long years of debate spanning three Congresses and two administrations, it is finally set to become law. This is bipartisan, commonsense legislation that will spur the innovation that drives the American economy.
"Chairman Smith has been a true partner in our joint effort to enact meaningful patent reform legislation. I have been grateful for his partnership and support, and commend his work in the House to move this bill forward. I commend Senator Hatch, Senator Grassley, and Senator Kyl for their commitment to this important bill. The America Invents Act shows what we can accomplish when we cast aside political ideology, and work together for the American people.
"The creativity that drives our economic engine has made America the global leader in invention and innovation. The America Invents Act will ensure that inventors large and small maintain the competitive edge that has put America at the pinnacle of global innovation. This is historic legislation. It is good policy. And it is long overdue to be signed into law."
IP Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.): "The last time our patent laws were significantly updated was in 1952. The nature of our economy has changed significantly since then, and it is only right that Congress review our patent laws and amend them as necessary to make sure they still work efficiently to promote progress and innovation as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
"The America Invents Act creates more certainty about patent rights, which will attract investment in these ideas. This will unleash further innovation in America by ensuring that more products and services come to market which will help put Americans back to work."