On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed H.R. 1249, the "Leahy-Smith America Invents Act" (AIA). The AIA was passed by the U.S. Senate on September 8, 2011, without any further amendments to the House version of the law. This "patent reform" bill will put into effect several profound changes in U.S. patent laws during the next year. The changes will occur both in the front-end stage of filing and prosecuting patents, as well as the post-grant stage after patents have been issued and are in the enforcement / licensing / litigation stage. Foremost is a conceptual change of the U.S. patent system from a "first-to-invent" system of priority to a "first-to-file" priority. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has already begun making new rules and procedures in anticipation of the bill's implementation. MMM senior IP partner John R. Harris led a webinar on this new bill on September 14, 2011, where he reviewed the major changes in the U.S. patent system that are expected to result when the various provisions of the bill go into effect, as well as some of the implications to businesses.
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