An overhaul of the US patent law began with the America Invents Act (“AIA”) back on September 16, 2011. Thanks to the changes in key provisions, the US is moving to a first-to-file system, significantly expanding upon the traditional definition of prior art and changing the process for contesting a patent.
Being the First-to-File
As of mid-March, the patent office began using a first-to-file system instead of a first-to-invent system that we currently have in existence. Inventors will no longer be able to claim priority based on the date that they first thought of their invention. Instead, priority will be determined based upon the filing date of the application. Clients are going to have to file their applications earlier and follow-up on their applications more frequently than what the current procedures necessitate.
If your company is privately backed, it means that you are going to need to spend additional money on your patents, the development of strategies for patents and the overall patent process a lot earlier in the game than what you had to with the older system.
Changes to Prior Art under the AIA
The AIA, which became effective on March 16, 2013, greatly expanded the scope of what activities and publications are considered to be “prior art.” One of the biggest changes is that disclosure by publication, public use or sale anywhere in the world before the date of filing now counts as prior art whereas only US disclosure before the date of invention used to qualify. For more on Prior Art and FAQ’s visit: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/mpep-2200.html
Post Grant Review
As of September 16, 2012, the process of post-grant review took effect. Post grant review generally applies to patents issuing from applications subject to first-inventor-to-file provisions of the AIA. Post grant review is a new trial proceeding conducted at the Board to review the patentability of one or more claims in a patent on any ground that could be raised under § 282(b) (2) or (3). Post grant review process begins with a third party filing a petition on or prior to the date that is 9 months after the grant of the patent or issuance of a reissue patent. The patent owner may file a preliminary response to the petition. A post grant review may be instituted upon a showing that, it is more likely than not that at least one claim challenged is un-patentable. If the proceeding is instituted and not dismissed, a final determination by the Board will be issued within 1 year (extendable for good cause by 6 months).
To understand all of the ins and outs of patent law, you need to enlist the help of a professional attorney. Not knowing what the process is and what steps you need to take can cause more problems than what it’s actually worth. Don’t waste time. Call an experienced patent attorney who can and explain the process.
By Anna Shapiro