Senate Passes Historic Patent Reform Legislation

The U.S. Senate has passed a sweeping revision of the U.S. Patent Statute, 35 U.S.C. §1, as S.23.  The bill passed 95-5 on March 8, 2001.  The following changes were made to the Patent Statute, many of which directly apply to computer-based, business method patents.

Third party submissions of prior art for pending applications;
USPTO fee setting authority;
Supplemental examination authority;
Repeal of the residency requirement for Federal Circuit judges;
Micro entity status for reduced fees;
Unpatentability of tax strategies as within the prior art;
Elimination of the best mode defense;
Creation of a special post-grant review for business method patents;
USPTO authority to establish satellite offices;
Creation of a USPTO ombudsman; and
USPTO authority to prioritize examination of inventions of national importance.

Other more controversial issues, such as injunctive relief, damages calculation and willful patent infringement, were dropped from the bill.  Most importantly, the bill permits the USPTO to use all funds it collects which will bring more fiscal stability to the agency.  In years past, the Congress would raid the USPTO funds to support other governmental programs.

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