WASHINGTON, March 8, 2011 - The Senate voted Monday to end debate and may move to a final vote as early as Tuesday on a bill that would overhaul the nation's patent system for the first time in nearly 60 years.
The Senate voted Monday by an 87-3 margin to approve an invocation of cloture, bringing debate to a close on the America Invents Act - formerly the Patent Reform Act of 2011. The Senate is scheduled to consider the bill Tuesday afternoon, but has not yet locked in a time for a final vote.
One of the largest changes the bill would institute if it becomes law is switching the U.S. from a First-to-Invent system to a First-to-File system. In the former, only the original inventor of a device or process may rightfully file for patent protection. The First-to-File system, however, grants protection to the first inventor that brings a prosecutable claim to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The change would bring the U.S. into harmony with the great majority of global patent systems, which rely on First-to-File.
"Now is the time to act. Now is the time to vote," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the bill's original sponsor, during his statement before the cloture vote Monday. "Now is the time to move forward with this job-creating bill that will help boost our economy and restore America’s competitive edge in the global marketplace."