The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, also known as the latest version of the patent reform bill, was approved by the U.S. Senate today. The legislation now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Among the major changes in the legislation is turning the U.S. patent system into a first-to-file patent system as opposed to a first-to-invent system. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's current use of the first-to-invent system awards a patent based on the conception of the invention, not necessarily when it's filed. The first-to-file system, as the name suggests, awards a patent to the first person who files for it.
Proponents, including technology companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple have rallied for the first-to-file system, saying it makes our intellectual-property system more competitive with those in foreign countries. While smaller businesses have said the change in filing standards puts them at a disadvantage.
For more on this story, read Patent reform bill gets Senate approval on CNET News.