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The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) represents one of the most significant overhauls of U.S. patent law since 1952. Signed into law on Sept. 16, 2011, the AIA continues to be implemented in phases. While some changes took effect immediately, others, such as switching from a “first to invent” to a “first-inventor-to-file system,” will not happen until March 16, 2013. The next set of changes, which take effect on Sept. 16 of this year will provide several new (or at least improved) tools for attacking questionable patents and patent applications. This article examines a few of the most anticipated ones. While their relative effectiveness remains to be seen, these tools provide any party contending with overreaching patents (or perhaps more accurately, overreaching patent owners) with options much earlier in the game than they had under the old system.

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