Patent office satellite offices would have to conduct outreach to women, minorities, and other groups underrepresented in the patent system under a bill that seeks to improve diversity in the patent system.
The Unleashing American Innovators Act would also create a pilot program to help first-time inventors determine whether they have a patentable idea and lower application fees for small businesses, among other things. The bill was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
“Expanding access to the patent system is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of maintaining American competitiveness and extending opportunity to all Americans, no matter their background, economic status, or location,” Leahy said in a statement.
The announcement comes days after the 10th anniversary of the America Invents Act, landmark legislation that reshaped patent litigation. Leahy played a major role in the AIA becoming law.
He and Tillis also introduced a second bill, the Pride in Patent Ownership Act, which would require patent owners to disclose their identity to the PTO when a patent issues and when it changes hands. The senators said currently it can be difficult and costly to discover a patent owner’s identity.