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Obama to Sign Patent Reform Bill Today

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – US President Barack Obama will sign the recently passed patent reform bill into law today, marking the US' shift from a first-to-invent system to a first-to-file system and essentially harmonizing US practices with common international laws.

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (HR 1249) passed the US Senate last week with strong bipartisan support (on a vote of 89 to 9). In addition to altering the underlying way in which patents are granted, the bill takes measures to address the large and growing backlog of patent applications and enables the director of the US Patent and Trademark Office to set the agency's fees.

Obama is scheduled to sign the bill into law this morning at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va.

The legislation has garnered widespread support from some business groups, universities, and the patent office itself, but has been opposed by some small business advocates who fear it will benefit big businesses at the expense of smaller innovators.

"The America Invents Act will play an essential role in ensuring our continued leadership, especially in the fast-growing biotechnology industry," Life Technologies Chairman and CEO Greg Lucier said in a statement.

Likewise, the Biotechnology Industry Organization praised the bill's passage last week.

"The improvements made by the bill will benefit all sectors of the national economy by enhancing patent quality and efficiency, objectivity, predictability, and transparency of the US patent system," BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood said in a statement.

The Scan

Plan Rebuffed

The Associated Press reports China has rejected the World Health Organization's proposal to include the lab-leak theory in the next phase of its investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

Opossum Change

Researchers from Riken have used CRISPR to edit marsupial genomes, as Technology Review reports.

In the Ice

Cosmos magazine reports that researchers have uncovered more than two dozen ancient viruses in a Tibetan glacier.

Nature Papers Present Method to Uncover Differential RNA Modifications, Neutrophils in Innate Immune Response

In Nature this week: computational approach to identifying differential RNA modifications, and more.