WASHINGTON (7/1/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has joined 12 other trade associations to encourage Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring H.R. 1249, the “Leahy-Smith America Invents Act,” to the Senate floor soon. H.R. 1249 would alter the patent application system by awarding a patent to the first inventor to file a given application. The legislation also provides greater time for the public to provide input on a patent and changes the rules under which an existing patent may be challenged. CUNA and its fellow trade associations are specifically backing section 18 of the bill, a portion of the bill that would protect credit unions and other businesses from outside claims that some specific customer service, payment and marketing practices have already been claimed under existing business method patents. These patent challenges, which are often brought by non-practicing entities, can become expensive for credit unions and others if they are heard in court. H.R. 1249 would allow the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to examine patent challenges outside of the court system. The bill also increases PTO funding. The joint trade association letter, which was also sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), said that the patent reforms proposed in H.R. 1249 would spur innovation, create jobs, "and ensure that the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has the tools necessary to maintain our patent system as the best in the world.” The bill passed the House by a 304 to 117 vote last week, and similar legislation received nearly unanimous support in the Senate earlier this year. The letter was cosigned by the American Bankers Association, the American Council of Life Insurers, the American Financial Services Association, the American Insurance Association, the Clearing House Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. CUNA joined these trade groups to successfully defeat a recent amendment that would have removed section 18 from the bill. Two letters addressing patent-related issues have also been recently filed by the joint trade groups. For the full letter, use the resource link.