On March 8, 2011, the U.S. Senate approved, by a vote of 95-5, long awaited patent reform legislation. The legislation, known as S.23 “The America Invents Act,” now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, where further revisions by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee are expected. Major changes to the U.S. patent law sought by the legislation are conversion of the U.S. from a “first-to-invent” system to a “first-to-file” system, consistent with most other countries’ patent laws, new requirements for false patent marking lawsuits, and new proceedings to challenge a patent’s validity. A coalition of relatively large corporations, including at least one financial services company, supported passage of the legislation. However, many smaller entities opposed the legislation, indicating that larger companies could take advantage of a “first-to-file” system due to their larger economic resources.

(Source: S.23)