According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is going to scrap rules that the Bush Administration put in place to limit the flood of patents that companies could file. The idea was that fewer patents would speed up the approval and denial process at USPTO. With over 700,000 patent filings in backlog and a $200 million budget shortfall for the Federal fiscal year that started in October, something has to change. The bigger the backlog, the messier the tangle is to decide who invented something first. Hence, the first-to-file provision is still in the Senate bill, which has plenty of inventors up in arms. Now it is not just a race to invent, but a race to do paperwork. And in that case, the bigger companies have the advantages.
The punchline: But if healthcare runs off the rails, the Senate will turn to patent reform so fast it might snap our necks if we are watching.
The logic problems:
The prior rules on continuing applications would have impacted fewer than 5% of all patent applications, a marginal impact on backlog.
As to "first to invent" vs. "first to file", interference cases are a fraction of all applications.
Neither the rules nor "first to file" are tightly linked to the backlog problem.