Calling it a jump-start for the economy and a boon for jobs, President Barack Obama signed into law on Friday a bill that overhauls the nation’s patent system for the first time in nearly six decades.
“Right now, there are about 700,000 applications that haven’t even been opened yet. These are jobs and businesses of the future just waiting to be created,” Obama said at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., where the signing took place. "Somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough."
Obama received a rousing applause from the students in the crowd when walking out onto the stage in the school’s gym.
The congressional authors of the bill, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), along with Reps. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), walked out on stage before the president. Commerce Department Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, USPTO Director David Kappos, DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman and Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter were also on stage.
Signing the patent bill isn’t enough to spur job creation, the president said. He also called on lawmakers to pass the jobs bill he recently presented to Congress.
“I want Congress to pass this jobs bill right away,” he said.
Embattled by high unemployment numbers, the White House is touting the patent reform law as an example of the president’s commitment to job creation. The America Invents Act is designed to help the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cut through its massive backlog of patent applications, which administration officials argue will enable businesses to get innovations out to the marketplace faster and increase hiring.
When enacted, the bill will shift the U.S. patent system from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file nation. It also sets up a new regime to review patents and gives the USPTO more flexibility to set and spend fees paid for by inventors and businesses to get patents and register trademarks.
On a conference call with reporters Thursday, Kappos said the agency has already begun implementing the provisions outlined in the bill.
The legislation boasted broad support from tech heavyweights — including Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook — and medical and manufacturing industries, which cheered the signing of the bill.
“This bill is an important step forward for the nation’s patent system and represents consensus among many key stakeholders and broad support across various industries,” the Coalition for Patent Fairness — which represents Apple, Cisco, Dell and Google — said in a statement. The America Invents Act “will harmonize America’s patent system and allow us to continue to compete in the international marketplace.”
Agarwal and Company Law Offices LLP., India
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