The America Invents Act (AIA) is geared to have its final set of amendments coming into force in 2013. With large multinationals poised to gain largely from the amendments, 2013 is going to be crucial fixing plugs and ensuring the smooth management of post-grant patent affairs.
Despite the fact that the reforms to the AIA point towards offering an advantageous position to deep-pocketed multinational firms, they still have the potential to bring down costs and accelerate patent examination for small companies. For instance, entities with an employee strength of less than 500 will need to shell out $2,400, while the cost doubles for larger enterprises. While at this point in time it still remains to see how much this change will accelerate the process on a patent-to-patent basis, some industry experts feel this is the greatest change to the patenting system in the US and should largely help smaller inventors. However, this also points to a possibility that the rising number of patent lawsuits and with the current system set in favor of deep-pocketed gains over individual inventors and smaller companies, technology innovation in the US will continue to have a shaky ride. After all, the USPTO has been issuing more patents than ever before in recent years.
A recent USPTO report records that around two-third of the two million patents that are active at present belong to the technology world. Reports show that some individual IT companies hold more patents compared to that of an entire industry. For instance, while the financial services industry has about 9,000 granted patents, Microsoft alone owns 10,000 granted patents. Besides, the IT giant has at least 10,000 applications as against the financial industry’s 3,000. This could be a reason why there has been an increase in the expense of the overall quality of patents in the technology field and what they cover in comparison to that of other industries.
This is an interesting phase to watch out for. With moneyed megatechs being scorned by a section for bringing about the AIA and putting smaller investors at a monetary disadvantage, will the reforms have an adverse effect on patenting activity in the US or will it benefit in protecting inventors’ interests is something only time will tell.
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