Why It’s Time to Change the American Patent System

The Patent system in the US has evolved from time immemorial. Being the first federal statute patent in the US, The US Patent Act of 1790, vested the power to grant patents to the Patent Board. The board consisted of:

  • Secretary of State
  • Secretary of War and,
  • The Attorney General

The Patent Act of 1836, established patent office which acted as an organization under the Department of State and was to be managed by a commissioner. The patent system has seen gradual improvements in attempts to straighten the previous patent systems. Not only has the patent system changed but also the manner in which applications for patents are made, the definition of an invention and other terms used in patenting.

American Patent System

US Patent Trademark Office has segregated patents to three types;

Utility Patents

Granted to those who invent or bring forth new and useful improvement to process, machine, article of manufacture or composition of matter.

Plant Patents

Awarded to those who discover and succeed in asexual reproduction of a plant(s)

Design Patents

Given to anyone who may invent a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

The Congress is the one empowered by the US constitution to enact laws that affect patents.

Worth a patent?

The Patent law dictates that the subject matter to the awarding of a patent is useful. Useful in that, the invention acts to serve a purpose; also includes operating the status of the machine. Therefore, an idea or a suggestion is not protectable.


No patent if:

  1. The invention has ever been patented, described in a printed publication, in public use, on sale or in any way available to the public before the effective filing date for a claim.
  2. Subject has been described in a patent issued by the US or in an application of patent published or thoughtfully published by the US and names another inventor who enjoyed the patent.

Why a Change Is Crucial

Patents protect innovators. Strengthening them will motivate Americans to innovate, compete with the outside world and most important; create jobs. Congress is empowered to make laws on patents. Various houses have thus come up with legislation that has undermined patents sometimes even rolling back to previous patents, you see?

A good example is the PATENT Act (s. 1137) a Senate version of the Innovation Act. Below are the reasons:

To Draw Line Between Inventions

According to USTPO, a subject seeking patent and not exactly shown by the prior art and involves one or more differences over the most nearly similar known thing, will still lack patent even if the differences would be obvious. We are saying, “A critical, simple, improvement to an invention may lack a patent.”

Draw a clear line that will show what difference is looked at when giving patents. It will lead to people improving other people’s inventions knowing whether a copyright of their improvements is valid.

Treat Patents like Properties

Just like any other private property, patents cannot be infringed at will by other parties. Changing the current patent system will get innovators protected against large corporations and foreign entities. The two above maneuver and use weaknesses in the system to infringe rights awarded to innovators without making necessary compensations. Change the system to have innovators enjoy the fruits of their contributions to a better America!

Poor Use of Application Fees

Patent application fee should be used solely for matters that regard patents. Currently, the fees is being diverted to fund other government expenditures. Changing the patent system will bring sanity to use and management of the funds.

Permit Necessary Directives

Orders are necessary to prohibit patent infringers to continue using the invention while the matter is in court. More so, patent owners are not protected against notorious firms after the case is out of court. To protect them, change the existing system.

Encourage Fairness in Patent Office

Changing the patent system will mean also introducing new rules that will govern patent office holders. Changing the current system will encourage the said office holders to show fairness when dealing with patent issues. It will also caution them against harassing those coming to seek the office’s services.

In Conclusion, we appreciate that there exists a system governing patents. Although good, it’s weak. We attribute its weak nature to continued harassment of innovators. It has also discouraged inventions. A change of the patent system will promote innovativeness and creativity. Who knows, it could be the one holding back a great invention that may bring the heaven closer to earth!

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