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PTO Should Take a Victory Lap

The United States Patent and Trade Office (PTO) just released their “Study and Report on the Implementation of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).” They deserve a round of applause for their hard work implementing this landmark piece of legislation.

Signed into law in 2011, the AIA was the first major change to the Patent System in 50 years. When it was enacted, we believed that it would modernize our laws to take into account the global nature of our patent system. We hoped it would provide clarity and better certainty for both patent owners and those looking to manufacture or provide new services. Because of the work by the PTO in implementing this legislation, both have occurred.


Under the exceptional leadership of Director Lee, the PTO is doing a commendable job of implementing the AIA. They beat virtually every deadline set by the legislation and they did so in an impressive manner. This included transitioning from a “first to invent” system to a “first inventor to file” system and setting up three brand new patent review programs to more efficiently challenge the validity of patents. The Report highlights the steps the PTO has taken to implement the law and provides recommendations to Congress on how to further improve or tweak the legislation to help the PTO fulfill its mission. Most notably, the PTO recommends that Congress:

  • should not extend the Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents (pgs 37-39) and
  • should only make minor, clarifying changes to the Inter Partes Review system (pgs 33-35).

BSA commends the PTO on this report; beyond that, BSA commends the PTO for all of their hard work taking a complicated piece of legislation and putting it into practice.

Victoria Espinel

Author:

Victoria Espinel is a respected authority on the intersection of technology innovation, global markets and public policy. She leads strategic efforts that help shape the technology landscape in 60 countries through work in BSA’s 10 global offices.

Espinel also serves as the President of Software.org: the BSA Foundation. Software.org is an independent and nonpartisan international research organization created to help policymakers and the broader public better understand the impact that software has on our lives, our economy, and our society.

Espinel served for a decade in the White House, for both Republican and Democratic Administrations as President Obama’s advisor on intellectual property and, before that, as the first ever chief US trade negotiator for intellectual property and innovation at USTR. She was also a professor of international trade and intellectual property at the George Mason School of Law.

Espinel is a founding and ongoing co-sponsor of Girls Who Code’s Washington, DC, summer immersion program, which empowers young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. She speaks before audiences around the world to build visibility for the amazing things people can do with software, and encourages businesses, governments, and the public to support a policy environment that will enable even more software breakthroughs.

Espinel chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Digital Economy and Society. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), the principal advisory group for the US government on international trade. She holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, a JD from Georgetown University Law School, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriaespinel.

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