The Senate has released an amended version of S. 515, the Patent Reform Act of 2009 that appears to address many of the hopes for a simplified, and increasingly objective and transparent patent system in the United States. Two reforms included in the legislation that are key to the higher education community include: harmonizing U.S. law with that of the international community by adopting a first-inventor-to-file procedure, and improving patent quality and reducing litigation costs by creating a post-grant administrative procedure for challenging patents in their first year. Several higher education associations have expressed support for the amended legislation. In the associations’ letter it is noted that the substitute amendment “represents the successful culmination of a thorough, balanced effort to update the nation’s patent reform system to support more effectively the nation’s innovative capacity in the increasingly competitive global environment of the 21st century.”
At this time, it is unclear when the legislation will advance further in the Senate, and several challenges appear likely on the House side. In the coming weeks, Federal Relations will be briefing WA delegation staffers on the impact of the legislation at UW. Interested members of the UW community are encouraged to contact the Office of Federal Relations.