WASHINGTON (9/19/11)--President Barack Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (H.R. 1249) into law Friday, and credit unions and other businesses will now be protected from outside claims on some of their specific customer service, payment and marketing practices. These types of patent challenges, which are often brought by non-practicing entities, can become expensive for credit unions and others if they are heard in court. The presidential signing ceremony took place at Alexandria, Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology. Obama was joined by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), and Mel Watt (D-N.C.). The White House in a statement said the bipartisan guest list, and the bill signing, “shows that strong bipartisan cooperation is possible” and that “Congress can come together on behalf of the American economy and American innovation.” H.R. 1249 will 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. The Credit Union National Association was one of several trade groups that backed the legislation, and sought senate support ahead of this month’s vote through a letter to members of congress.