Patent Law Presentations: Recent and Dramatic Changes in U.S. and International Patent Laws
The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) is United States federal legislation that was passed by Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on September 16, 2011. The law represents the most significant change to the U.S. patent system since 1952, and closely resembles previously proposed legislation in the Senate in its previous session (Patent Reform Act of 2009). Named for its lead sponsors, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Act switches the U.S. patent system from a "first to invent" to a "first inventor to file" system, eliminates interference proceedings, and develops post-grant opposition. Its central provisions will go into effect on March 16, 2013.
The European Union patent (EU patent), formally European Patent with unitary effect, also known as the Unitary Patent, Community patent, European Community Patent, or EC patent and sometimes abbreviated as COMPAT, is a proposed patent legislation in the European Union, which would allow individuals and companies to obtain a unitary patent throughout the European Union, with the exception of Spain and Italy. During the European Council of 28–29 June 2012, agreement was reached on its provisions between 25 of the 27 member states of the European Union, which uses English, German and French at the exclusion of other languages. The necessary EU-legislation for enhanced cooperation was approved by the European Parliament on 11 December 2012, and entered into force in January 2013. The provisions will apply once the related Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, which was signed by all EU member states except Bulgaria, Poland and Spain, enters into force, on or after 1 January 2014.
The proposed EU patent is closely related, but different from the European patent, which is granted under the 38-state European Patent Convention. European patents, once granted, become a "bundle of nationally enforceable patents", in the states which are designated by the applicant. The EU patent would, once established, be designated after granting of the European patent, with validity in all participating countries. The system reduces translation requirements (by focusing on the three languages of the European patent: German, English and French), maintenance fees (with a single fee for the whole area) and provides for judicial procedures for a court with effect in all countries.