Beltway blog The Hill reports that senators involved in the patent reform bill have reached agreement on language in the legislation that has lingered in Congress for much of the last decade.

There’s a certain good news-bad news aspect to this. I’m for language in the bill that allows the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to set its own fees, rather than depend on Congress. We all know how long it takes Congress to act. The USPTO needs the flexibility to respond to market realities.

First-to-File vs. First-Inventor-to-Invent. Few other aspects of this debate are more heated than switching from the existing U.S. policy of first-to-invent to first-to-file or rather first-inventor-to-file, which is the practice in other developed countries.

Post-grant review. In principle, I’m for reform that remedies patent disputes before patents are granted. The legal system is too expensive and a too time-consuming venue for conflict resolution.

Damages. This to me is the biggest aspect of patent reform, because at the end of the day, money is what IP is all about. The bill increases the power of courts in patent disputes, allowing judges to assess the legal basis for specific damages.

Photo by USPTO.