On Tuesday, September 6, the United States Senate voted 93-5 to move ahead with final debate on the America Invents Act, which would modify the U.S. patent system from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file patent system, as well as alter the Patent and Trademark Office’s fee system. A day later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that the Senate will vote on final passage of the House-passed patent reform bill on Thursday evening (September 8th) after an allotted debate time of five hours and consideration of three amendments that pertain to the legislation.
The most controversial proposed amendment is sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), which would in effect, prohibit using funds collected through patent fees for unrelated purposes. Sen. Coburn has publicly vowed to fight to reinstate language, originally approved overwhelmingly by the Senate, which would prohibit Congress from using Patent and Trademark Office fees for other programs. The House already rejected similar language contained in Sen. Coburn’s amendment and there is some concern that the re-addition of any such provision in the Senate bill could jeopardize patent reform efforts. Venable will continue to follow significant developments on patent reform and provide analysis on how the changes will impact the patent landscape.