This update supplements our news articles from 25th May 2011 and 22nd July 2011 concerning the reform of the US Patent system.
Following on from our news items of May and July 2011, the ‘Leahy-Smith America Invents Act’ was finally approved by the U.S Congress on 8th September 2011. It was swiftly signed into law by President Obama on 16th September 2011.
The America Invents Act brings about a number of sweeping changes to US patent law. Perhaps the most notable of these is the switch to a first-to-file system from the current first-to-invent system. Also of significance is the introduction of a post-grant review procedure, similar to the Opposition procedure employed by the EPO.
Although the new legislation entered into force immediately, transitional provisions governing when the various aspects of the new law become effective are quite complicated. Particularly important dates are 16th September 2012, from which it will be possible to initiate the post-grant review procedure, and 16th March 2013, from which the first-to-file provisions will apply.
Before supporters of the act can unreservedly celebrate the alignment of the last significant first-to-invent country with the rest of the world, commentators have already expressed concern that the new law may be subject to challenge on the basis that it is incompatible with the US Constitution. Until such a challenge is raised, however, we assume that the various new provisions will come into effect according to the implementation timetable set out in the Act.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking before any action in reliance on it.