House, Senate must settle differences; bill has backing of White House, big business
By Associated Press
Washington - The House on Thursday voted to rewrite 60-year-old law to give inventors a better shot of obtaining patents in a timely manner and bringing the U.S. patent system in line with those of other industrialized nations.
The legislation also takes steps to help the underfunded U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deal with a backlog that forces inventors to wait three years to get a decision on patent applications and has swamped the agency with some 1.2 million pending applications.
The vote was 304-117, closer than the 95-5 vote by which a similar bill cleared the Senate in March. The two chambers still have to reconcile differences, but the bill has the advantage of being supported by the White House, major business groups, and leaders from both parties.
"This legislation modernizes our patent system to help create private-sector jobs and keep America on the leading edge of innovation," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Before getting to a final vote, House supporters had to overcome challenges from opponents who charged that the legislation violated the Constitution and would make it more difficult for the small-scale inventor to prevail in disputes with large corporations.