Supporters say this extra revenue will give the USPTO more power to chip away at its backlog of some 700,000 patent applications, while a new third-party challenge system will help eliminate patents that should've never received approval in the first place. Opponents, meanwhile, criticized the bill for not eliminating fee diversion altogether (an amendment that would've placed more severe restrictions was ultimately killed, for fear that it would jeopardize the bill's passage), with Washington Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell questioning the legislation's impact on small businesses, calling it "a big corporation patent giveaway that tramples on the rights of small inventors." But Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who sponsored the bill, argued that yesterday's approval marks a major and historic inflection point in US patent policy:
The creativity that drives our economic engine has made America the global leader in invention and innovation. The America Invents Act will ensure that inventors large and small maintain the competitive edge that has put America at the pinnacle of global innovation. This is historic legislation. It is good policy.
The America Invents Act will now make its way to President Obama's desk, where it's expected to receive his signature. For more background on the legislation, check out the links below.