The US patent process is about to undergo a major overhaul, thanks to the passage of a new act that significantly alters the approach to assigning patents. As he signed the legislation into law last month, President Obama said that the reform is much needed, and that it will speed things up for innovators and entrepreneurs, allowing them to move from invention to business as quickly as possible. Of course, there are those who disagree with Obama, those who believe that the new law is not favorable to the very businesses that are creating jobs and innovation. The IEEE is one signatory to a letter sent to the House of Representatives expressing concern over the loss of the one-year grace period, which they believe gave small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs the time needed to line up the financing required to patent. The act’s supporters believe the new law will strengthen the nation’s intellectual property system, clearing a backlog and shortening the wait for a patent. Duke University responded positively, saying that the law will make it easier for university researchers to move innovations into the marketplace, where they might create new industries and jobs. Read more about the law in our story “New patent law favors ‘first to file’ ” on page 16. The global market for biomedical tools and instruments was worth an estimated $13.4 billion in 2010 and is expected to grow to $21.1 billion by 2016, according to “The Market for Minimally Invasive Medical Devices,” a June 2011 market research report published by BCC Research. What role will specialty optical fibers play in that growth? “Minimally invasive surgery promises decreased pain and trauma during operations, faster recovery time and reduced risk of infection,” write the authors of an article in this issue. “However, it requires small disposable sensing catheters and compact tools to assist physicians.” To learn more, read “Specialty Optical Fibers Make Surgery Less Invasive,” by Dr. Saeed Rehman and Dr. Asa Claesson, beginning on page 18. For up-to-the-minute news from the biophotonics community, visit our website, www.biophotonics.com, and watch the weekly “Light Matters” newscast from the video player on the home page for a different take on industry news.