Patent reform is a reality, as the Senate passed H.R. 1249 without amendment. The voting on the proposed amendments was close; passage of the overall bill was not.
Sen. Jeff Session’s (R-AL) proposed amendment on retroactive patent term extension failed 51-47. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) proposed amendment to strike the special business method reexamination procedure failed 85-13. Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) proposed amendment to prohibit fee diverion failed 50-48; the Senate actually voted to table Sen. Coburn’s amendment, thereby killing it.
Finally, the Senate passed the unmodified bill 89-9. Senators voting against the bill were: Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Rand Paul (R-KY). The bill now proceeds to Pres. Obama for signature and enactment.
Effects of the Bill
The “effective date” of the bill will be the date it is signed by Pres. Obama and becomes law. Most effects of the bill have been covered in detail on this site and will not be felt for some time. These include the transition to first-to-file which takes place 18 months from the effective date (March 2013).
Some changes will take place sooner. The “micro entity” filing status for 75% reduced fees takes place immediately, while the 15% surcharge on PTO fees and the $4,800 fee for prioritized examination take place 10 days after enactment.
A complete copy of the bill as passed is here.