The America Invents Act (AIA) was passed in 2011 and we are about to start the eighth year since its inception. (See description here included such changes as a move to “first to file” from “first to invent”.) Intellectual Property time since then has been, to say the least, tumultuous. We have seen significant Supreme Court decisions, the rise and spread of the troll as an intimidator of patent-owning small and medium size businesses and infringement litigation run wild. “Beware of the law of unintended consequences.”
In response to these and other post AIA problems, Senator Patrick Coons (D-DE) introduced the “Support Technology and Research for our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (Stronger) Patents Act.” http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2017/06/29/stronger-patents-act-introduced-senate/id=85117/ Co- sponsors include Tom Cotton (R-AR), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mazio Hirono (D-HI).
There is a lot in the bill as one can see in the article. But, one condition not covered is that of patent examiners. First, funding is needed to significantly increase the numbers of examiners as annual patent applications increase and overwhelm the existing workforce. Second, the increasingly complex and variety of technologies in patent applications, such as Artificial Intelligence, make it imperative that highly educated people be hired, and trained. Plus pay and benefits must be competitive to keep them working at the Patent Office, not jumping ship into the private sector.
Third, the incidence rate of infringement claims that ultimately lead to patent invalidity is much too high. USPTO time and expenses incurred to settle claims in a drain on the organization and cause delays in getting valid products to market. New techniques, more training, special masters or other aids such as special computer systems (WATSON-like) are needed to insure that patent claims are validated and not infringing issued patents. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”