Over the years many laws and regulations for patents have come and go so that aspiring inventors can get a fair shake when they want to bring their product to market. Patents are meant to protect the inventor from someone else stealing their idea, so must be watched over to ensure that is what occurs.
One fairly recent issue that seems to have come up in the past year or so is some folks worrying about a bill that could affect Section 101 of the Patent Act. Section 101 is a patent law tool that provides for defense from patents that shouldn’t have ever been filed at all. Yet a Senate IP subcommittee has been considering changing this section so that some believe those kind of patents will end up being allowed to go through. The Senators involved are Thom Tillis (Republican from North Carolina) and Chris Coons(Democrat from Delaware).
If an application gets rejected via Section 101 it means the approving official thinks it relates to something not eligible for being protected by a patent. Two kinds of rejections exist. One is the invention doesn’t fit into one of four statutory categories or the other is that the items is some sort of abstract idea or it might be a natural law or phenomenon of some kind, a mental process, abstract intellectual concept or mathematical algorithm. So, if your invention doesn’t fit into being a process, manufacture, machine, or composition of matter laws of nature, it is not eligible for a patent.
So, how would changing this affect patents? Some fear if Section 101 gets changed as suggested by the Senators, that things could occur such as a private company being allowed to patent human genes, since the draft bill overrules a ruling by the Supreme Court on preventing patents on items occurring in nature, i.e. human cells. Some fear that it would negate current protection of innovative processes that boost access to medicine and stop someone from getting a monopoly on something that’s not possible for a person to invent, i.e. cells occur in nature so a person can’t invent them.
Another fear is the changes would cause problems that were fixed in 2014 with Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, 573 U.S. 208 (2014). That case’s issue was in regard to claims about a computer-instigated, electronic escrow service that facilitated financial transactions. The patent for this was invalidated due to being an abstract idea. Software itself wasn’t involved in this ase, however it has been used to judge applications for patents for software or software for business methods.
The two Senators sponsoring the changes in the patent law want to overturn the Alice case. Patent people worry that would cause small businesses to be forced to pay license fees that are unjustified to those who are considered to be patent trolls (considered to be a non-practicing entity) if they don’t want to face legal battles or fight patents that were wrongly given to those people or businesses.
An example of a patent invalidated under the Alice ruling is one where someone tried to patent online maps and sued a bunch of realtors and even homeowners for posting maps to their houses. Without the protection of the Alice ruling, it would be impossible for anyone to post an online map without paying fees to the ones trying to get that patent, which was found to be an invalid patent so wasn’t enacted. There are many cases of such ridiculous patent troll cases.
Another group against the draft law proposal is the High Tech Inventors Alliance or HTIA, which consists of several big technology companies. They worry because the proposal plans to allow such things as business models, mathematical equations and fundamental scientific principles to be patented if they are done via a computer. However, the HTIA believes there should be much more stringent testing requirements that what the proposal suggests to happen.
All in all, this action shows that despite patent law being around for 100s of years, it is always going through changes and reforms based on current events and changes in technologies.
If you have an invention and need a patent, and are unsure what to do, InventHelp is a business that focuses on helping inventors get their idea ready and make it real. They have lots of experts in almost any industry, as well as specialists in marketing strategies, etc. They can assist you in meeting people to help you in your quest.
Here are some articles on how InventHelp is assisting people with inventions and patents:
Those tips will assist you if you are pondering about the way to get your invention seen and with any luck sold. InventHelp has the capability to make your dream happen, so count on them!