Some minor provisions in the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act were updated Monday, when President Barack Obama signed into law a measure to fix and update the 2011 law that overhauled the patent system.
The previous session of Congress agreed on the technical amendments to the law and sent the bill to the White House on New Year’s Day, just beating the legislative deadline. The timing of the bill’s introduction and last-minute passage allowed for little debate and Congress ended up sidestepping a controversial provision.
The law makes technical amendments to the original law, such as eliminating a nine-month "dead zone" when there would be no way for a third-party to challenge a patent that had been filed under the old patent system. The bill also modifies requirements and time periods for activities relating to patent term adjustments, and revises the patent extension period for certain international applications.
The legislation also specifies that a civil action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is the exclusive remedy for challenging a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision on a request for reconsideration of a patent term adjustment determination.
The Senate, before passing the House bill, stripped out a provision that called on the PTO to report to Congress on how many patent applications are still pending even though they were filed before changes to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1995.