Senate Ratifies Patent Process Funding Change

The Senate ratified the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (HR 1249) on September 8, 2011. The bill streamlines patent and trademark application procedures, changes the current “First to Invent” requirement to “First to File”, and shifts the cost of maintaining the Patent Office from the Federal Budget to applicant and user fees. This latter saves taxpayers $717 million over the next ten years.

Democrat Senators Boxer (CA), Cantwell (WA), and McCaskill (MO) joined six Republicans in opposing the bill.  Republican Senators Coburn (OK), DeMint (SC), Johnson (WI), Lee (UT), McCain (AZ), and Paul (KY) voted against it on grounds that it is the constitutional responsibility of the government to bear the costs of maintaining the Patent Office, and the imposition of higher fees on the applicants would inhibit individual entrepreneurs competing with corporations who can more easily afford the patent fees.

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