This video from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) discusses the major change to US patent law that took effect this month. On March 16, the USPTO switched from the “first-to-invent” system that has been used for decades to evaluate patent applications to a “first-to-file” system. The Wall Street Journal reported that the USPTO received 12,670 patent applications during the week ending March 2, the highest weekly total of the year and the second-highest weekly total of the past five months. While the figures for the weeks ending March 9 and March 16 were not yet available, a USPTO spokesperson told the Journal that they were expected to be even higher.
The “first-to-file” system is the third and most discusses phase of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) that President Barack Obama signed into law on September 16, 2011. While the name of the new system can certainly lead some to envision inventors literally racing to the USPTO, the video notes that there are some key exceptions. A person shall be entitled to a patent unless the claimed invention:
- Is already patented or otherwise available to the public
- Was described in a printed publication or in public use
- Is on sale
- Was otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention
That last exception can affect many individuals or companies looking to patent long held trade secrets. There are certainly other complicated aspects to the “first-to-file” system that will only be better understood after facing court tests.
Additional information about trade secrets litigation is available on our website. If you need legal representation or assistance in filing a patent claim, Los Angeles patent infringement lawyer Robert G. Klein can answer all of your questions and help you determine the best way to proceed. You can contact our firm at [number] or enter your information in the form on this page to let our Los Angeles patent infringement attorney review your case.
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