July 2011

US Congress passes patent reform bill

On June 23, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a long-awaiting bill involving major changes to patent prosecution and nullity proceedings.

U.S. patent law is thus transitioning from the “first to invent” principle applying hitherto to the “first to file” principle applying almost universally in other countries. This means that, in the United States of America as well, patents will now be granted to the person who is first to file a successful patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A person who merely “makes” an invention and does not disclose his knowledge to the public in the form of a patent application may end up empty-handed in future (as is already the case in Germany and most other jurisdictions).

There will also be a new, cost-efficient procedure in which the legal validity of patents can be challenged on an “inter partes” basis.

We will gladly advise you on this (and other innovations in U.S. procedural law).

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