In contrast, the U.S. system relies on a determination of who invented the new good or process, and awards patents to those inventors. The U.S. system can lead to expensive disputes over who invented a good or process first.
The bill, the America Invents Act, would create a sort of hybrid system called a "first-inventor-to-file" process in which priority will be given to patents that are filed first. However, it also creates a new "derivation" process that will be used to ensure that the first person to file for a patent is also the first inventor.
Aside from that major change, there are several other differences between the bills that could make it difficult to reconcile. For example, the Senate bill would allow civil actions against patent holders in cases where the invention may have been derived form the person seeking relief. The House bill does not include this language.
Both bills, however, allow non-patent holders to petition the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deem certain inventions as unpatentable.
The expectation of House action on a patent bill came just one day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the House a "big, dark hole" because it has yet to take up patent reform or a Federal Aviation Administration bill.