The America Invents Act passed: Here’s what it means

US-PatentTrademarkOffice-SealThe technology world is rife with patent wars. Every day, names like Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Apple are busy throwing their metaphorical weight around, crying infringement at the slightest provocation. And it’s not only the accusations that are building up, as companies acquire one another in order to wage patent battles, interested in nothing more than the leverage intellectual property can provide.

You can’t blame the industry for engaging in these tactics. But the risk of continuing down this path is obvious: Innovation and thus, consumers, suffer. Which is why the issue has risen to the political arena, and last night Congress passed the America Invents Act. While the legislation doesn’t do quite as much as some (read: Google) would like it to, there are a few elements to the bill that will directly impact the state of patent wars we’re currently subjected to on a daily basis.


Prior to the passage of HR 1249, the US patent system operated under a “first-to-invent” policy. The change here is fairly obvious: Now, priority is given to the whomever first filed the patent – that person or corporation is protected, versus the individual who claims ownership. The obvious benefit here is that many a frivolous lawsuit is based on claims of invention regardless of patent, and now this sets a hard line, giving original patent holders protection.

Regardless of those who file, however, universities that are actually responsible for new inventions will retain special protections. The patenting process in general should be sped up as well. Fees tied to filing patents will be adjustable based on market conditions to try and make the entire thing more efficient, and working in the bill means funds can’t be deviated to other areas.

False marking abuse

The America Invents Act doesn’t only propose legislation to help big companies protect their rights. It’s also trying to keep them from engaging in the plethora of legal battles the court is flooded with. According to the bill, lawsuits would be limited “only to those parties who have actually suffered competitive harm.” If we’re to take this at face value, a good many of the current patent lawsuits could be found unwarranted. Interpretation, of course, will affect what kind of usage this sees.

Will the bill hurt small businesses?

The largest criticism of the America Invests Act is that it favors big businesses that are able to lawyer-up and act quickly. To address this, an ombudsman will be appointed to represent “independent inventors and small businesses.” The bill has been heralded as a way to create new jobs, and was partially spurred by competition from China and the massive amount of patents coming out of the country.

There will also be protections under prior user rights, which means the court will take into account those who have made heavy use of inventions. 

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in February, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.

Intel expects Apple to transition Macs to ARM processors in 2020, report says

It has been rumored for some time that Apple could transition away from Intel to ARM processors, but a new report now claims that Intel is aware of the decision and that it could happen in 2020.

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.

The rumors were true. Nvidia’s 1660 Ti GPU, a $280 powerhouse, has arrived

Nvidia has officially launched the GTX 1660 Ti, its next-generation, Turing-based GPU. It promises to deliver all the performance and efficiency for all modern games, but without stepping into the high price range of the RTX series. 

Dodge the biggest laptop-buying mistakes with these handy tips

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.

Everything you need to know about routers, modems, combos, and mesh networks

Modem vs. router: what's the difference? We explain their functions so you can better diagnose any issues prior to contacting technical support. We also talk about a few variants you'll see offered by ISPs and retailers.

Metro Exodus update brings DLSS improvements to Nvidia RTX 20-series PCs

Having issues in Metro Exodus? A February 21 update for the title recently delivered enhancements to Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling feature and other fixes for low-specced PCs. 

Limited-time sale knocks $500 off the price of the Razer Blade Pro 17

Looking for an ultra-powerful laptop for yourself or someone else? You're in for some luck. Razer is running a sale on some of its best gaming laptops, cutting down pricing on the Razer Blade 15 and the Razer Blade Pro 17. 
Emerging Tech

Engineer turns his old Apple lle into an wheeled robot, and even gives it a sword

How do you give new life to a 30-year-old computer? Software engineer Mike Kohn found a way by transforming his old Apple IIe into a wheeled robot. Check it out in all its 1980s glory.