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The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) Is Signed Into Law

On September 16, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act ("AIA") into law, which introduces many significant changes in patent law.

The new law contains a number of immediate changes, including restrictions on false patent marking lawsuits, and an expansion of the prior user rights defense beyond business method patents.

Another imminent change is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) will begin imposing a 15 percent surcharge on patent-related fees beginning September 26, 2011.

Other key provisions of the law will be implemented over time.

Supplemental examination and post-grant review procedures will take effect in one year (September 16, 2012).

A shift from a first-to-invent to first-to-file patent system and the establishment of new derivation proceedings will take effect in 18 months (March 16, 2013).

The new law also requires the USPTO to open a satellite office within three years.

These are only a few of the important changes under the new patent law. In light of these changes, Fulwider Patton LLP recommends that its clients consider what policies and practices should be instituted to prepare for the transition to the first-inventor-to-file system. The patent attorneys listed on Fulwider Patton’s Patent Contacts page are available to discuss possible strategies related to the changes in patent law and procedure brought about by the new Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.