October 18, 2019

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Senate Passes Sweeping Patent Reform Legislation

The U. S. Senate passed sweeping legislation on September 8, 2011, designed to significantly overhaul the U.S. patent system. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act ("Act") (HR 1249) makes numerous changes to the U.S. patent laws, most notably conforming U.S. patent law to the laws of most other countries by granting patent protection to the first person to file for patent protection rather than the first to invent, as it is now. Portions of the Act will take effect immediately, while others will become effective in 12 to 18 months. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law promptly.

Other notable changes to the patent laws include:

  • Third parties are given the opportunity to challenge the Patent Office's decision to grant a patent.

  • Third parties may cite prior art to the Patent Office during prosecution of a patent application.

  • Strategies to reduce taxes are not patentable.

  • Only the government and those suffering a competitive injury will be allowed to sue for false patent marking.

  • Failure to obtain the advice of counsel cannot be used to prove willful infringement.

  • Creates a mechanism by which the Patent Office will reevaluate and possibly invalidate previously issued business method patents.

  • Eliminates the requirement that inventors describe the "best mode" of making and using the invention as a basis for challenging the validity of a patent.

  • Allows individual inventors or very small companies to file patent applications at significantly lower fees, allowing those small companies and inventors to afford filing a patent application where they might not otherwise be able to afford such an application.

Companies and individuals who already have patents or pending patent applications should review their current practices and bring them in-line with the new patent laws in order to maintain their competitive edge. Inventors should also file an application as soon as possible, and must take additional steps to avoid disclosure or commercialization of their inventions prior to filing a patent application or risk losing the right to seek patent protection.

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Thomas J. Kammerait, von Briesen Roper Law Firm, Milwaukee, Corporate, Estate and Tax Law Attorney

Tom Kammerait is a Shareholder and the Chair of the Business Succession Planning Section. Tom represents businesses on all aspects of their corporate and business needs including transactional matters, tax, general corporate, real estate, technology, and estate planning issues. Tom generates value by helping clients set priorities for enhancing the value of their businesses and identifying risk management strategies, on a tax-efficient basis. He is also a CPA, so his knowledge of accounting gives him a quick understanding of client financial matters, and a rapport with...

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Daniel S. Welytok, von Briesen Roper Law Firm, Milwaukee, Corporate Law Attorney

Dan Welytok is a Shareholder in the Milwaukee office of von Briesen & Roper, s.c. Dan’s practice focuses on helping management achieve practical results in all aspects of business. He assists clients nationally and internationally with business development, tax issues, acquisitions and divestments, capital structuring, financing, corporate governance, information technology, licensing and distribution, regulatory and compliance issues, labor and employee benefits matters, and dispute resolution. Dan represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, Federal and state courts and regulatory agencies on audits, controversies, compliance issues and business disputes. He advises nonprofit and tax-favored organizations on business and tax matters including structural and cooperative arrangements, joint ventures, unrelated business income, grant making, public awareness campaigns and fundraising activities.

Dan has served in numerous leadership roles in various professional associations, including the American Bar Association’s Advisory Committee, articles editor for The Tax Lawyer and chair of the ABA Tax Law Committee, Young Lawyers Division. He is also a past member of the State Bar of Wisconsin Tax Section Board of Directors and past chair of the TE/GE Council for the Great Lakes Area liaison with the Internal Revenue Service. Dan frequently gives presentations at various local and national seminars and is an editorial board member and regular contributor to the industry publication, The Cooperative Accountant. He has authored and edited various tax and law-related books listed as best sellers by Amazon.com, including Nonprofit Law & Governance for Dummies with a foreword by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, Sarbanes-Oxley for Dummies and The Wisconsin Guide to Nonprofits. Dan is also the chair of the firm’s Opinion Review Committee.

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Gottlieb John Marmet, Von Briesen Roper Law Firm, Milwaukee, Intellectual Property and Litigation Law Attorney

Gottlieb John Marmet is a Shareholder in the firm’s Litigation and Risk Management Practice Group. John is a registered patent attorney and focuses his practice on intellectual property law including trademark litigation; patent prosecution and litigation; opinions pertaining to patentability, infringement and validity; and, advising clients on freedom to operate issues. John also has significant experience in product liability, toxic tort litigation and risk management, utilizing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering. John has litigation experience...

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James Wawrzyn, von Briesen Roper Law Firm, Milwaukee and Waukesha, Corporate and Healhcare Law Attorney

James Wawrzyn counsels clients on commercial contract negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, supply-chain alternatives, and general corporate matters. James collaborates with clients to identify and implement their priorities. For each project, James has a results-oriented approach. He continuously engages the stakeholders to recognize and actively address obstacles to finalizing priority items.

James is skilled in the preparation and negotiation of technology-based agreements such as master services, development and licensing...

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Mark Foley, von Briesen Roper Law Firm, Milwaukee, Bankruptcy and Litigation Law Attorney

Mark F. Foley is a Shareholder at von Briesen & Roper, s.c. with more than 25 years experience meeting the complex business and legal needs of clients ranging from individual business owners to industry trade associations and Global 500 companies.

Mark has successfully tried cases before judges and juries in federal and state courts, represented debtors and creditors in bankruptcy courts throughout the United States, and arbitrated matters before AAA and NASD panels. He has directed and conducted the nationwide defense of recurring product...

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