Last fall saw what most intellectual property experts regard as the biggest change to patent law in the US since the Patent Act of 1952. On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) into law, and it brought several major changes to patent law in the United States. This week we will discuss a few of those changes and what they mean for businesses. Guidance on patent concerns or other intellectual property matters is available from a Los Angeles business litigation lawyer.
Now it’s first inventor to file, not first to invent
The US had been the only country remaining using the first to invent concept of patent protection. A lot of people were critical of this approach, though, as it led to costly and lengthy battles over who would receive patent protection. If someone invented something first, but someone else filed first, that first person could then engage in interference proceedings that would determine who invented the thing first.
The rest of the world uses a first to file patent system where the patent goes to the first person who files for protection, which, as of next spring, will be similar to the system in place in the US. The approach under the AIA is not quite exactly first to file, but rather first inventor to file. The end result is the same – for patents filed after March 16, 2013, inventors need to file to protect their inventions.
Some parties – including individual inventors and academics – are critical of the new system, as they fear it favors larger entities with the resources to file patents. There’s not much they can do at this point, though, as all new patents will soon have to be filed under the new system. Will you be seeking patent protection for a recent invention? Call our Los Angeles intellectual property lawyers at (323) 653-3900 ext. 110 to learn what patent changes mean for you.