Congressman Lamar Smith

Representing the 21st District of Texas
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On Fifth Anniversary, Smith’s Patent Reform Bill Continues to Spur Innovation

Sep 16, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON – On the fifth anniversary of its enactment, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) celebrated the achievements of the America Invents Act. Spearheaded by Smith and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the legislation passed in 2011 at a time when the country’s patent system was long overdue for reform.

The patent system had served Americans well for years, but by 2005 it needed to be modernized to apply to computers, smartphones, and software. The laws could no longer protect unanticipated inventions. Patent ownership was in question. And overly broad patents were awarded that shouldn’t have been granted in the first place. The outdated system was dragged down by frivolous and costly lawsuits. Hundreds of thousands of patent applications were backlogged at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

For six years Smith championed the need for comprehensive improvement to patent law, working across the aisle in the House of Representatives and with the Senate to make changes all could agree on. On September 16, 2011, the America Invents Act (AIA) was signed into law by President Obama.

The AIA made the first comprehensive reforms to the patent system in 60 years. Since its implementation, the reforms have aided the PTO and have helped improve the quality of patents.

The new law has helped the PTO reduce the backlog of patent applications, created a post-grant review system to eliminate questionable patents that have already been issued, and reformed court procedures to limit abusive patent litigation.

Updates to patent laws have also harmonized the U.S. system with the global patent framework, which helps smaller inventors compete on a worldwide scale. 

The AIA also established satellite offices of the Patent and Trademark Office, including an office in Dallas, to more closely connect patent filers with the USPTO, and improve the speed and quality of patent examination.

Congressman Smith: Today’s anniversary marks an important date for the American patent system. The America Invents Act continues to improve the quality of patents, reduce patent application backlogs, and provide a better alternative to costly and prolonged litigation over the validity of existing patents. Congress, the Patent and Trademark Office, and stakeholders should remain committed to the America Invents Act’s continued success to unleash American innovations.”