WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives passed patent legislation on Thursday that will allow the patent office to set its own fees and aims to clear a years-long backlog of patent applications.
The House voted 304 to 117 to approve the bill. The Senate passed a very similar bill by an overwhelming margin in March. Differences between the two versions must now be ironed out.
Supporters hope the bill will help the patent office hire more examiners and clear out a backlog of more than 700,000 applications that are awaiting approval or rejection.
Critics say the bill could end up making it more difficult for inventors to defend their patents against infringement.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)