U.S. Rep. Adam Smith today voted for H.R. 1908, the Patent Reform Act, to help promote innovation and ingenuity in America.  The Act passed today by a vote of 220 to 175.

“This legislation is the most significant patent reform in more than fifty years.  This bill will stimulate innovation and promote American competitiveness in the global marketplace.  I plan to continue working to improve certain provisions of this bill to make sure the best version possible becomes law,” Smith said.

The Patent Reform Act is a bipartisan bill that includes measures to streamline our patent approval procedures and protect the integrity of the patent process:

  • A move to a first-come, first-serve basis for issuing patents.  Currently the U.S. relies on a “first to invent” patent system, wherein patents are granted to applicants who can prove they invented a given product before other applicants. No other nation in the world uses such a system because of the inefficiencies, uncertainties, and staff time inherent in such a process; they use instead a “first to file” system, wherein the first applicant for a given patent receives it on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Enhancements to fairness in adjudication of patent disputes.  H.R. 1908 provides guidance to the judicial branch to ensure that patent owners receive appropriate damages while not discouraging innovation in a given field.  The bill also provides clarification to patent holders on requirements to prove “willfulness” in infringement disputes.  The legislation includes protection against abuse of validity challenges to patents as well.

H.R. 1908 must now be approved by the Senate and a conference agreement must be reached between both Houses of Congress before the President can sign it into law.