Sen. Patrick Leahy

Under the leadership of Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) and Ranking Minority Member Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Senate, by a landslide vote of 95-5, approved a bill that includes adoption of a first-inventor-to-file patent system, funding for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that will bring budget predictability, and the creation of an ever more effective post-grant review procedure.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.

The so-called America Invents Act will allow the USPTO to keep all the funding it receives from user and application fees, as well as establishes more satellite patent examining offices. The USPTO announced last year the establishment of its first satellite office in Detroit. The bill also aligns policies with foreign patent offices, which USPTO officials say will streamline the overall examining process and help reduce the backlog of pending applications.

Among those applauding the bill was the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), which said the legislation marks “a significant milestone in the effort to secure the U.S. position as the worldwide leader in innovation and the jobs it produces.”

AIPLA President David Hill said “Senate passage of S. 23 is extremely encouraging. We are hopeful that patent reform will soon become a reality.” AIPLA Executive Director Q Todd Dickinson said “This is an historic step towards enactment of critical reforms to our patent system. After years of deliberation, we look forward to Congress finishing this work to enact the kind of patent reform the American innovation community needs and deserves.”