So, yes, in theory the old system was more fair. But in reality, interference proceedings were very rare — one report says that in 2007, they arose in fewer than one percent of all patent applications. And, of these, the patent was given to the second-to-file a grand total of 7 times. In addition to being rare, the proceedings were also expensive: a 2005 survey said the average cost was over $650,000.
Finally, America has a special rule that will help inventors in many cases. The rule says that if you disclose the invention at a conference or elsewhere, you have a one year grace period to file a patent for it. This means that your disclosure will prevent someone else from getting a patent on your invention (but it could also harm your chances to get patents in other countries).
A March 18, 2013 article reports on the US patent system’s mid-March transition from “first to invent” to “first to file”. The America Invents Act (AIA) was signed on 2011, in which the first wave of changes to the system happened a year later. How will the AIA bring about change in the way the system grants patents to the country’s innovators?
While Jeff Roberts from Gigaom believes the system still has lapses, its passage will become the ticket for the U.S. to join other countries using the “first to file” system. As the name implies, the patent will be granted to the person who managed to file first instead of the person who invented it first. Some believe this plays in the hands of the so-called “patent trolls”, who would abuse the system by filing patents regardless of their benefit to society.
Roberts also stressed that the AIA hardly changes the business interest behind the filing of a patent. Big companies have the resources to pursue patent after patent, leaving small-time inventors in the dust. An expert Miami patent attorney, however, may suggest disclosing the invention within a year of its conception; that way, even if others file for the patent first, the inventor who revealed it to the public will receive the patent.
As it turns out, the term “first to file,” Leonid Kravets from TechCrunch believes, is all but a misnomer. Nevertheless, getting help from a professional Florida patent attorney like David Lhota can help any innovator understand the new system. Upon closer inspection, it doesn’t look so bad despite the flaws.
(Info from “First to file” Patent Law Starts Today: What it Means in Plain English, Gigaom.com. March 18, 2013)