President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act (AVA), saying the new patent law answers the "urgent need" to create new jobs in the U.S. The act was passed by Congress last Thursday after debate that drew in some of the largest corporations, including tech giants Microsoft and Google.
The president signed the legislation Friday at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia.
The new law lets the patent office -- which funded entirely by patent fees -- set its own fees and prevents any money from being diverted from the cash-strapped patent office to the U.S. Treasury.
Microsoft has said that it supports the law.
"(The AVA's) reforms in these areas will ensure that innovators in our troubled economy can benefit from a predictable and rational patent system, with new tools to eliminate patents that should not have issued and to speed the processing of patents that should be issued," said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, in a recent blog post. "A fair, balanced and effective patent system is indispensable to promoting R&D investment, job creation, and economic growth."
According to Reuters, "The legislation also aligns U.S. patent law with those of other countries by granting patents to the first inventors to file, rather than requiring inventors to prove they were the first to develop an innovation."
Business Insider reports "The office plans to hire as many as 2,000 more examiners in the next year, update its IT system and open offices throughout the U.S. to help deal with a backlog of nearly 700,000 applications awaiting review."
In addition to creating more jobs, staffing up the patent office should also decrease the time it takes to issue a patent, which currently averages 34 months.