As expected, a bill to provide technical corrections to the America Invents Act was introduced on Friday in the House of Representatives: H.R. 6621.
Manus Cooney of American Continental Group provides a good summary at IPWatchdog.
Most of the proposed changes are indeed technical and do not greatly affect on inventors. Of interest are proposed changes to eliminate a “dead zone” for patents subject to post-grant review and technical corrections for the time period for instituting derivation proceedings.
In 1995 when the US passed the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, it changed the term of patents from 17 years the issue date to 20 years from the earliest filing date. For applications pending on the Act’s effective date, June 8, 1995, the patent term is the longer of the two. For example, for a patent application filed June 7, 1995 and issued June 7, 1997, the patent would expire June 7, 2015. If the patent issued June 7, 1999, the patent would expire June 7, 2016.
There are still a few applications pending from prior to the enactment date, meaning that if a patent application was filed June 7, 1995 and did not issue until December 3, 2012, it would not expire until December 3, 2029, more than 34 years after the application was filed.
The new bill seeks to eliminate the transition patent term, meaning that for all applications not issued within a year of passage of the bill, the 20 year term would apply. If the patent application was filed June 7, 1995 and issued January 1, 2014, it would expire on June 7, 2015, giving it an 18 month patent term.
The bill provides no fix to the post-grant estoppel provisions, nor does it provide clarification of the “disclosure” for the newly limited grace period for inventor activity.
Congress will probably spend most of the Lame Duck session on the fiscal cliff which means that a bill like this one will probably pass without debate, possibly tacked onto another, completely unrelated, bill.