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The Big Secret of the America Invents Act

By Robert Maier of Baker Botts LLP

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, enacted into law by President Obama on September 16, 2011, is the culmination of years of hard work, lobbying, politics, and a Congressional Record dating back several Congresses to 2005. 1 The goals of the act, as reflected in Senator Leahy’s comments to Congress, were to “improve the application process by transitioning to a first-inventor-to-file system; improve the quality of patents issued by the USPTO by introducing several quality-enhancement measures; and provide more certainty in litigation.” 2 While these stated goals all appeared to hinge on improvements in our patent system, many of the provisions - upon closer inspection and in light of the legislative history - may have different motivations and effects altogether, perhaps influenced in part by the political climate, the timing of the election cycle, and America’s loss of manufacturing and jobs and struggle to compete in the world economy. In effect, some of the most potent changes in the AIA may do less to strengthen our patent laws and more to incentivize trade secrets.


It is no surprise that, given the current state of the U.S. economy and regularly- reported employment figures, the job market prese...

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