Congress sends patent overhaul bill to president

By JIM ABRAMS | September 9, 2011 | 4:30 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has given the U.S. patent system its first major overhaul since the age of the transistor radio by passing legislation designed to spur innovation and provide a sorely needed boost to the job market.

Senate passage Thursday of the America Invents Act, which sends it to President Barack Obama for his signature, is the first significant change in patent law since 1952.

The bill is aimed at streamlining the patent process, reducing costly legal battles and giving the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the money it needs to process patent applications in a timely fashion.

The bill would switch the United States from the "first-to-invent" system to the "first-inventor-to-file" system for patent applications. Some small-scale and independent inventors say it will put them at a disadvantage with big corporations.