Zintro experts comment on changes to US patent process

President Obama recently announced that there will be changes at the US Patent Office with the signing of the new Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. We asked our Zintro experts about their thoughts on these changes.

Phillip Wilson, a R&D consultant, says that the biggest change is the move to a first to file system like the rest of the world. “This will drastically reduce litigation, which mainly involves who was the first person or company to conceive and document the idea. It will, however, greatly increase the need for improved intellectual property secrecy practices,” he says.

Wlison says that this is particularly important for universities. “The publish or perish environment leads scientists to make mistakes in disclosing things that they should not in publications or presentations at technical meetings. This makes it easier to steal ideas of careless inventors,” he says. “Fees will go up, but the USPTO will now keep the fees it generates. This will enable the patent office to hire additional examiners and cut the backlog significantly from an average of three years to 18-24 months.”

Ben Levitan, a wireless cellular expert, says that the patent office has already simplified. “It use to cost $20,000 [to file a patent], now you can do it yourself for $400 or have a website do it for you for about $700. President Obama can do two things: 1. help small inventors sell their idea; and 2. help small inventors and small companies protect their patents when they are stolen by large corporations that can bring in an army of lawyers so that small businesses that you go out of business trying to sue them,” he says.

Sahil Kapoor, an expert in genomics, says that the new reforms may have an impact on increasing the speed of getting patents improved, patents that have been pending approval from years. “The reforms in patents may open opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate and convert ideas in the commercial sector,” he says. “The switch to First to File instead of First Inventor is a key step that will increase commercialization.”

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