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COMMENTARY: What the U.S. Patent Reform Bill Does and Doesn't Do

The courts and common patent practice did much of the heavy lifting before Congress made the law

4 min read

14 September 2011—Have you ever had an argument that lasted so long you forgot what you were arguing over? In the patent reform battle, we may have lost sight of why reform was needed in the first place. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, to be signed into law this week, makes some seemingly sweeping changes, but a closer examination shows that the courts have already done much of the job for Congress.

The slow-motion legislative fight for a better patent system got a kick in the pants in June when President Barack Obama asked Congress to send him a ”bill that would make it easier for entrepreneurs to patent a new product or idea, because we can’t give innovators in other countries a big leg up when it comes to opening new businesses and creating new jobs.” Such legislation was not a new idea. The House of Representatives proposed a patent reform bill in 2005; the Senate did so in 2006. But for six years, the House and the Senate could not agree on whose bill should become law. Now, with the executive branch recasting patent reform as a ”jobs creation bill,” Congress finally has its act together.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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