The news that the US is debating a patent reform bill didn’t come as much of a surprise, criticisms of the current system (and in particular its backlogs) are common in the media.
It seems however, that the patent reform act is also set to be the topic of passionate debate. See the NYTimes article “Senators to Debate Patent Bill”
“…critics say [the bill] will undermine American strength abroad, plunder the United States economy and exceed the government’s constitutional authority”
Strong words indeed! The article also says:
“…opponents of the bill maintain that the current system is better structured to “give the little guy an advantage,” said Keith D. Grzelak, former chairman of the intellectual policy subcommittee of the United States branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.”
Interestingly it seems the “big guys” are not happy either with the bill in its current form. Washington Post article; “Senate debates patent reform as more voices weigh in” says:
“The proposal has met with resistance from some of its earliest supporters in the technology industry. The Coalition for Patent Fairness, which includes companies such as Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel and Verizon, has issued a statement saying it opposes the current bill.”
The main change proposed is to move from a “first to invent” to a “first to file” system. For more info on the differences see the Wikipedia page on the topic. In the meantime, we will have to wait and see what the final details of the reform will be.