New patent reform law promises job creation, red-tape trimming, B-to-B tensions

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The White House is touting the America Invents Act, a patent reform bill that President Obama signed today, as the “most significant jobs bill passed by Congress this year.”

The new law will allow the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to set its own user fees, giving the government agency more control over its funding. It will also make fundamental changes to the patent review process.

“By creating a faster process for the approval of patents and reducing the amount of uncertainty, it will increase investment in the economy today and start creating jobs today,” Jason Furman, deputy director of the National Economic Council said Thursday during a conference call with reporters.

According to Bloomerg Businessweek, PTO currently has a backlog of nearly 700,000 applications awaiting review and the average wait time for a patent award is 34 months. The government agency intends to hire 2,000 more patent examiners in the coming fiscal year to address those applications and hopefully process future applications more quickly.

Some small businesses complain that the new law gives an unfair advantage to large corporations seeking to obtain and protect patent rights, but Microsoft, IBM, 3M, General Electric, and other industry titans favored its passage.

Ellen Kullman, DuPont CEO and a member of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, told Bloomberg, “Pace is really critical here. … If you can get the pace of the patents going, you can accelerate the pilot launch; you can accelerate the production.”

Ultimately, the purpose of the American Invents Act is to make patent rights easier and faster to obtain, and get production going.

PTO has already awarded biofuel-related patents to DuPont through a fast-tracking process reserved for green technologies.