Obama signs bill overhauling patent, trademark laws

President Obama has signed legislation overhauling the nation’s patent and trademark laws, a move the administration claims will speed the patent process and spur job growth. 

Appearing at an event at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., Friday, Obama signed the America Invents Act into law, changing the U.S. from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file patent system.

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“I asked Congress to send me a bill that reforms the outdated patent process, a bill that cuts away the red tape that slows down our investors and entrepreneurs,” he said. “And today I’m happy to have the opportunity to finally sign that bill.”

The legislation is viewed as the most significant reform of the patent act in nearly 60 years, and is the culmination of a six-year campaign by corporate supporters.

Obama also took the opportunity to push the American Jobs Act, which he sees as “connected” to the patent reform legislation.

“This change in our patent laws is part of our agenda for making us competitive over the long term,” he said. “But we also have a short-term economic crisis, a set of challenges that we have to deal with right now ... I want Congress to pass this jobs bill right away.

“Everything in the proposal, everything in the American Jobs Act, is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past,” he added. “Everything in it will be paid for.”

Obama’s comments come a week after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) warned that Democrats should not expect the House to accept the proposed jobs act in its entirety. He said the House is instead likely to make Obama’s bill a starting point for negotiations on how best to promote job growth.

“Insisting that this body and the two sides here agree on everything is not a reasonable expectation,” Cantor said on the House floor Sept. 9.

In addition to signing the sweeping patent reform legislation on Friday, Obama announced several new initiatives to speed up research breakthroughs from labs to the marketplace.

The government will launch a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) center that will help companies reduce the time and costs required to develop life-saving drugs, making it easier for start-ups to commercialize the biomedical inventions made by NIH and Food and Drug Administration researchers.

The administration will also develop a bio-economy blueprint to create jobs and address key national challenges in health, energy and agriculture. A new prize — supported by the National Science Foundation and the Coulter Foundation — will also be offered to reward universities that make the most progress in accelerating economic growth and job creation.