US votes for patent reform

The United States has at long last voted through, with a large majority, a re-examintion and reform of the patent system.

After a campaign effort spanning at least six years, the vote finally passed in senate 89-9. It should see the patent system take a more European and Asian approach, reports the Wall Street Journal, boiling down to a first-to-file system over the copyright troll’s favourite first-to-invent.

The argument is that America’s patent system has been out of date for some time, compared to Asia and Europe which are more keen to reopen the book. The under-financed US Patent and Trademark Office will also be able to bump up its fees, which is being welcomed because of a sense of frustration with filing patents.

However, a person familiar with the matter suggests that while it’s a step in the right direction, it won’t be the kind of radical improvement it’s being touted as.

Some progress is better than none at all, our source says, but they expect politicians will consider the deal done and dusted – it’s unlikely it will be a case of continued development.

Although the efforts appear to be in earnest and tackling very real issues, with real reasons motifying the advocates involved, there is a cross-industry sticking point. For example, the pharmaceutical industry which relies heavily on patents has a different idea about reform than the IT industry. So, really, it’s a common denominator – and it has been hard enough to get this far.