Senate ends six-year battle, passes patent reform

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Concluding a six-year fight for patent reform, the Senate approved the “America Invents Act” Thursday evening in an 89–9 vote.

The patent system overhaul, which passed the House in June, will change the system from “first-to-invent” to “first-inventor-to-file,” which much of the developed world has been using for years, as it prevents inventors from laying claim to a patent after the fact.

The bill’s lead author, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, cheered its bi-partisan passage.

“The creativity that drives our economic engine has made America the global leader in invention and innovation,” Leahy said. “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.”

Leahy’s partner on the bill, Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, noted the bill’s job-creating potential.

“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,” said Smith. “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.”

Prior to its passage the Senate voted down three amendments that would have caused the bill to go back to the House for approval. (RELATED: Sessions, Coburn: Patent reform provision ‘illustration of Washington at its worst’)

The bill now goes to the president’s desk for his signature.

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Caroline May