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This essay discusses the evolution of the U.S. patent system over the past decade. It explains how various rules established by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the appellate court with exclusive jurisdiction over patent cases, created an environment that heavily favored patent owners and disadvantaged accused infringers. In response, Congress and the courts set out to reform our patent system and implemented a host of changes, most notably the passage of comprehensive legislation known as the America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011. Since the AIA, the patent system in the U.S. has certainly changed. Indeed, some argue that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction and now our patent system is too weak. This essay explores some of the current proposals pending before Congress, but argues that the better approach is incremental reform led by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office--a process that is already well underway.



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