Why I co-sponsored the patent reform bill

The bill would create a pure "first-to-file" system to bring needed clarity and certainty to the US patent system. It also creates a more streamlined and effective way of challenging the validity and enforceability of patents. The United States stands alone among nations that grant patents in giving priority for a patent to the first inventor, as opposed to the first to file a patent application for a claimed invention. The result is a lack of international consistency, and a complex and costly system in the United States to determine inventors' rights. At the same time, US legislation provides important protections for inventors at universities by permitting them to discuss their work publicly without losing priority for their inventions. Second, poor patent quality has been identified as a key element of the law that needs attention. After a patent is issued, a party seeking to challenge the validity and enforceability of the patent has two avenues under current law: by reexamination proceeding at the USPTO, or by litigation in federal district court. The former is used sparingly and some see it as ineffective; the latter, district court litigation, can be unwieldy and expensive. Third, we are keenly aware that a sound patent system needs fair and equitable remedies. As products have become more complex, often involving hundreds or even thousands of patented aspects, litigation has not reliably produced damages awards in infringement cases that correspond to the value of the infringed patent. - From a statement by US Senator Patrick Leahy