Opinions and Editorials

Mar. 30, 2022

Bloomberg Law: Don’t Weaken the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act by Rep. Lamar Smith

In 2011, I jointly authored with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) the bill that would become the Leahy–Smith America Invents Act (AIA). The AIA was the most extensive reform of the U.S. patent system in 60 years. A centerpiece was the creation of a new quasi-judicial administrative body called the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to adjudicate patent disputes. Our intent was to improve patent quality and provide a cheaper and faster alternative to district court litigation. This would encourage innovation, create jobs, and generally modernize the U.S. patent system.

In drafting the AIA, one of our chief goals was to achieve a balance—between small businesses and large companies, between patent owners and challengers, and between judicial and administrative bodies. At the time, we recognized the potential for some large companies to upset this delicate balance, using PTAB proceedings not as alternatives to litigation, but as tools to harass patent owners.