None of this should be construed as legal advice or even an official legal opinion about the upcoming changes to the U.S. Patent system.
We get to see a lot of innovative new items come across our desks here at HicksNewMedia and this weekend some big changes are coming to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that will affect the inventors here in the U.S. Coming up on March 16, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will be enacting some important provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).
Most notably the US is changing from a ‘first to invent’ model to a ‘first inventor to file’ model.
“Migration to a first-inventor-to-file system will bring greater transparency, objectivity, predictability, and simplicity to patentability determinations and is another step towards harmonizing U.S. patent law with that of other industrialized countries,” said Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea. (source)
When I first read this I thought it might heavily favor larger businesses since they’d have more resources to churn out patent-able ideas. However, I’m not sure that’s really the case since I’m guessing there will be a little less research required to find out if someone filed earlier or less effort required to defend yourself from someone coming years later with a claim that they invented some item first. The thing is they’re also changing the definition of prior art and expanding it so I got a little lost on who really benefits. Also, there is mention of filing discounts (75%?) being applied to a “micro-entity” who files a patent… so, that should help the smaller inventor who may have less money to file and possibly fight with others about their claim later on. Time will tell how it all works out but it’s nice to see that we’re making some attempts to modernize our systems. Now if this helps against patent trolls, so much the better.
Since I’m no patent system expert and certainly not an attorney, I’ve collected the USPTO’s helpful videos below to help explain the changes in more detail. (source) Plus, below I’ve selected some articles that might help you understand more about what the changes might mean.
Prior Art Under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) http://youtu.be/vIsXCSbJXnM
Exceptions to Prior Art Under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1) http://youtu.be/c182Bd52yxQ
Prior Art Under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(2) http://youtu.be/EJEHk4xXu1s
Exceptions to Prior Art Under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(2) http://youtu.be/fkAQ12E5kqY
Here are some additional resources on the subject.