The law streamlines the patent review process at the USPTO and it would change U.S. patent rules by giving a patent to the first person to file for it, not the first person to create a new invention. Changing to a first-to-file system puts the U.S. in step with most other countries.
Some opponents of the bill have said it favors large patent holders over small inventors. The first-to-file provision will create a race to the USPTO and disadvantage small inventors who may not have the money to immediately file a patent application, said opponents, including Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat.
The new law modernizes the U.S. patent system, said Mark Elliot, executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center.
"The legislation will help ensure that the USPTO is adequately staffed, efficiently operated, fully funded to reduce backlog, and process patent and trademark applications in a high-quality and expeditious fashion," he said in a statement. Reducing the backlog of patents at the USPTO "is essential to encouraging innovation and bolstering the U.S. economy."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.