Patent Reform Act of 2005 Introduced

The Patent Reform Act of 2005 has been introduced. The bill itself is fairly complicated. Rep. Lamar Smith’s press release summarizes the key features:

“· Provides that the right to a patent will be awarded to the first inventor to file for a patent who provides an adequate disclosure for a claimed invention;

· Simplifies the process by which an applicant takes an oath governing the particulars of an invention and the identity of the rightful inventor;

· Deletes the “best mode” requirement from §112 of the Patent Act, which lists certain “specifications” that an inventor must set forth in an application;

· Codifies the law related to inequitable conduct in connection with patent proceedings before the PTO;

· Clarifies the rights of an inventor to damages for patent infringement;

· Authorizes courts with jurisdiction over patent cases to grant injunctions in accordance with the principles of equity to prevent the violation of patent rights;

· Authorizes the PTO to limit by regulation the circumstances in which patent applicants may file a continuation and still be entitled to priority date of the parent application;

· Expands the 18 month publication feature to all applications;

· Creates a new post?grant opposition system;

· Allows third-party submission of prior art within six months after the date of publication of the patent application.”

While I don’t think this law represents a wholesale reform to patent law (which might not be a bad thing), this law certainly would represent a major tuning of current patent law. I’m still trying to grok the particulars, but everything I’ve seen suggests that most of these proposals are meritorious and would significantly improve existing law. I think we should give positive strokes when due (especially given how much legislator-bashing I do on this blog!), so I’m hopeful that we can encourage Smith and others to see a version of this reform through adoption.

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