Saturday, December 31, 2011

US Patent Law in 2012 - America Invents Act

It's about midnight in Los Altos, California so no long essay from me today ... maybe just a story.

In the afternoon my wife returned with notarized papers that had to be postmarked Dec 31, 2011. The mailman arrived at the same time (he was early). By the time I put the package together he was at the last house. I almost missed the mail as I didn't "know when things happen." Reaching home, my son asked if he could drive the car down the street and park. As we drove in reverse to park, I advised "look where you are going."

What's this have to do with US patent law? The America Invents Act (AIA) has changed patent law in major ways. Things won't work like they did in the past. We will need to "look where we are going." And because of its staggered implementation, it will be critical to "know when things happen." Many more sections of the AIA will be enacted in 2012 and the proposed PTO implementing rules are expected to be published within a month.  

Many are writing about the AIA, but it is important to read the statute. Professor Dennis Crouch's markup of US patent law shows what has changed and when the changes take effect. Some parts of the AIA are vague, but I expect the Patently-O blog and the PTO's web page Leahy-Smith America Invents Act Implementation and others such as Harold Wegner will keep us abreast as the courts and PTO interprets its provisions in the future.

We shouldn't be worried about the changes. As Donald Chisum notes, amidst the hype, the American Invents Act leaves most of the important topics of US patent law unchanged. See Chisum's What the Reform Act Does NOT Reform. As Chisum states, "Never has so much attention been focused on a patent enactment that accomplished so little." And Chisum on Patents is considered the essential patent law treatise since 1978. 

Finally, thank you for reading the Patent Planet blog in 2011. I am delighted to have readers in United States, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, India, China, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, Romania, Egypt, Sweden, Vietnam, Macedonia, and Thailand. Note I updated the article as late as January 3, 2012.

Happy New Year!

Robert Moll

Copyright © 2011-2012 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.