Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

When Congress overhauled U.S. patent law in 2011, the main debate

focused on the merits (and constitutionality) of converting from the incumbent

first-to-invent system, in effect since 1790, to a first-to-file system. With little

attention or analysis, the statutory overhaul also did away with what was

perceived as a rarely used relic of the pre-Internet era: the Statutory Invention

Registration system. Concluding that the Statutory Invention Registration system

was essentially useless under the outgoing law, Congress eliminated a system

with potentially significant uses under the new law, including uses that would

help redress the disadvantage imposed on U.S. inventors by the America Invents

Act ("AIA"). The system should be restored, with modifications that will make

it especially useful to universities, startup ventures and other underfunded

inventors.

This Article traces the brief history of the Statutory Invention

Registration system, from its introduction in 1984 through its repeal in 2011,

analyzing the possible reasons Congress might have thought the system obsolete.

It then demonstrates how each of those reasons, while rational under the

thenexisting law, would not apply under the revised statute. It then shows how a

modified Statutory Invention Registration System would be valuable to society in

general under the new statute, but particularly so to independent inventors,

nonprofit organizations, and universities. Finally, it describes the outline of a

proposed system that meets the needs of those groups and furthers the

Constitutional goal of promoting the progress of science and the useful arts.

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