The Supreme Court ruled this month 7-2 to uphold the "First-to-Invent" stand of the U.S. Patent Laws. This decision made in the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. reinforces the historical rights of inventors and should have sent a strong message to Congress about maintaining those rights.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court's opinion, noted that "since 1790, the patent law has operated on the premise that rights to an invention belong to the inventor." While he acknowledged that much has changed in U.S. patent law in 220 years, he emphasized, "the basic idea that inventors have the right to patent their inventions has not." The Court goes on to say that the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act allocating patent rights involving federally funded research did not change that basic tenet."

"With this ruling, faculty inventors and students no longer can be told by university administrations that they signed away the rights to their life's work as a condition of federal funding," said Dr. Renee Kaswan, founder of IP-Advocate. "The court's landmark decision confirms that faculty and student inventors merit a seat at the table and that, from now on, their voice will be heard."

Read attorney David P. Swenson, of the law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi, amicus brief co-sponsored by IP Advocate, AAUP, and IEEE on behalf of student and faculty inventors that helped win this decision.

Read more of Dr. Kaswan and Gerald Barnett's perspective on this landmark case.

Congress officially passed the America Invents Act on September 8, 2011. This much anticipated legislation represents sweeping changes made for the first time in over a half-century that will impact the future of intellectual property, university research and independent inventor rights. IP Advocate opposed many of its provisions. However, we are now focused on educating faculty and student researchers on its new policies and procedures so you can protect your intellectual property today. We have devoted a special section that chronicles the Road to Patent Reform that features expert commentary, news and resources to keep our community informed.

Read Patent Reform to learn about the American Invents Act

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