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Congress

Obama To Sign Sweeping Patent Bill

September 16, 2011

President Obama will sign the America Invents Act into law on Friday, enacting the most expansive reforms to the U.S. patent system in almost 60 years.

Ahead of the ceremony at an Alexandria high school, White House officials played up Obama's role in breaking the logjam of disagreement that had scuttled earlier attempts at patent reform.

Jason Furman, deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters on Thursday that when companies admitted that they agreed on 80 percent of reform proposals, Obama encouraged them to resolve the remaining disagreement.

The bill, which passed Congress overwhelmingly, has been trumpeted as a key way to help businesses create more jobs.

"It's about turning American ingenuity into American jobs," said David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on a conference call with reporters on Thursday. He said the bill would help his agency approve patent applications much faster.

Kappos said new funding could help him hire 1,500 to 2,000 more patent examiners, further helping the PTO keep up with the flow of patent applications.

Businesses remained somewhat divided over the final patent reform bill, but most agreed that it was a step in the right direction.

"The signing of the America Invents Acts into law today will help to rev up the engine of American innovation, improving the patent system and giving greater assurance to our nation's inventors," Christopher Padilla, IBM vice president of Governmental Programs, said in a statement.

Among other changes, the bill transitions the United States to a "first-to-file" system, under which the inventor who files an application first is awarded a patent.

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