In each of the last several year, bills aimed at “reforming” the patent system have been proposed. Today (February 28), the Senate is scheduled for an up-or-down vote on the Patent Reform Act of 2011.
Although there are some good things in the bill, the bill fails to address the main problems with the patent system — and that includes, particularly, fee diversion from the Patent Office to the other parts of the government.
Moreover, the bill would effectively do away with the concept of “first to invent” — as opposed to first to file — which would hurt individual inventors and small companies. Changing to first to file would mean that the person who files first would get the patent (assuming the invention was patentable). This would discourage inventors from sharing their invention with larger entities for fear that they end up in somebody else’s patent application.