On July 26th, 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office released the proposed set of rules which would govern the implementation of the “first inventor to file” provision of the America Invents Act. Currently, the United States is the only country to adhere to a “first to invent” patent system. However, its shift to the “first inventor to file” scheme, effective March 16, 2013, will bring the US patent system closer to that of the rest of the world.
Difference Between “First to File” and “First Inventor to File”
There is a subtle, but important, difference between America’s “first inventor to file” system and a “first to file” system. The US Constitution only grants Congress the authority to issue patents to inventors. Therefore, the US “first inventor to file” system grants patents to the first person/entity to file a patent application only if one of the applicants is an inventor. For those patent offices operating under a “first to file” system, the applicant does not have to be an inventor.
What are your thoughts on America’s switch to the “first inventor to file” system? Are you happy that it will create a clearly defined priority date for the public? Do you think it will hurt the sole inventor/small business who doesn’t have the funds to quickly file their application?