When you come up with a brilliant idea, naturally you will want to do everything in your power to protect it. This is especially true if your idea leads to an invention that can make you money or help you gain notoriety in some way. Well, with the passing of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act last year, inventors around the country are beginning to pay much more attention to the importance of getting patents as soon as possible.
The act, signed into law by President Barack Obama on September 16th, 2011, is named after its lead sponsors Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Lamar Smith and will go into effect on March 16th, 2013. How will this new law bring major changes for inventors? Let’s dive into it quickly.
Historically, the U.S patent system has always given leverage to the person who was first to invent. In essence, this means that if you came up with an amazing and unique invention first, then by law you have ownership. So if someone was to steal your idea days, months or years later, and you could somehow prove that you were the originator, you would still maintain ownership. However, with the America Invents Act, things will be far different.
See, once the America Invents Act comes into effect in a few weeks, being the first to invent will no longer be enough. The new act gives leverage to the inventor who is first to file for a patent of the invention. Many media outlets have labeled the patent reform as a “Race to the Patent Office”.
It is important to note that even with the America Invents Act coming into effect, there are some exceptions to consider. For instance, prior art can impact patentability. In other words, if an invention has been in publications or viewed or used by the public anywhere in the world, it could quality as prior art and bar patentability.
Let’s put this into perspective. Let’s say that you came up with an invention that is used by visitors at an amusement park in Miami, FL, but you have not actually went through the patent process. If someone was to try to file a patent for your invention after March 16th, it doesn’t mean they will have ownership simply because of the America Invents Act. Since your invention has been used by the public, it can quality as prior art and bar patentability.
With this groundbreaking act coming into effect soon, it should also mean a hike in patent infringement litigation and a greater demand for intellectual property lawyers. If you have an invention that you believe in and you have no idea how to file a patent, it may be in your best interest to seek counsel from an experienced lawyer who is accustomed to dealing with U.S patent applications.
In an article posted on IPtoday.com, writer Steven J. Hultquist wrote, “There is a need for the patent attorney to rapidly take an inventive concept and inductively broaden it out, hypothesize extensions, extrapolations, and alternative applications and embodiments, and competitively capture the broad scope of the invention, with fall-back positions against unknown prior art that may surface in the future, in the patent application that is rushed electronically to the Patent Office. There will be more “fire drill” patent filings in the post-March 16, 2013 world, with the unchanging goal of maximizing the patent position in each instance.”
In other words, with so many people rushing to the Patent Office, you better make sure you’re protected and making the right moves with the help of an experienced and proven patent attorney. There’s no point in rushing to the Patent Office if you don’t have a strong case to present.