The America Invents Act
Inventions that the U. S. Constitution gave Congress the power to promote by making laws that protect the right to invent, and take the opportunities that arise to accomplish enterprise goals, go to the first taker that files a patent. The America Invents Act signed by President Barack Obama in September, 2011 set aside the first-to-invent system that had been the American experience and replaced it with the first-inventor-to-file system. The first reform to the patent system in 60 years.
To the authors of the bill, Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) and Representative Lamar Smith (TX), on the list of things to consider for reforming the patent system, the practice of giving the patent to the inventor that knew there was a new invention came in second after the slow approvals that had made the U. S. fall behind in modern innovation. This change to the system gives U. S. inventors the opportunity to take ownership of the invention for 20 years by becoming the first to file. The same way inventors in the rest of the industrialized world had been staking their patent claims.
Complicated Results for Creative Work
Invention is done when the inventor owns the right to their produce made by private experiment and enterprise. Leahy and Smith changed the American patent system to an efficient and streamlined one. The process an inventor had to go through to prove they had made an original invention, not obvious to anyone with average skill in the art, at times prevented an approval and, at times, delayed the patent. The lawsuits attempting to settle that the proof was a failure, or good, took too much time and expense. Counterproductive, the Congress called the litigation.
Americans that did creative work needed relief from the unnecessary burdens. The American Invents Act gave them the relief.
From now on, the one right to use an invention goes to the first inventor to file a patent, or file their application for the patent. The first-inventor-to-file system leaves the opportunity to patent open to anyone that will take action to prove by the weight of the evidence they belong in the group of Americans that have added to the country's count of new productions. Just as long as they do not take any short cuts proving to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) they have an original contribution to American innovation. The patent date, or application filing date, settles who gets the credit. One look at the date on the face of the patent is easy.
Prior User Rights
Manufacturers that use their invention but never filed for a patent do not, by default, lose their opportunity to use their invention just because another inventor got a patent. As long as they used it at least one year before the patent, the prior user has a right to continue their use. The office uses either the filing date for the claim or the date the invention was disclosed to the public. None of the ideas and things used for their invention may come from the patent holder's public disclosures or from any uses of the disclosures. Their prior use is a defense to a claim of patent infringement.
Any enterprise that is the first to commercially use an invention has prior use rights.
Patenting every process or method used for commercial operations was too exhaustive a burden for high-tech companies to agree to. The bill gave them the opportunity to, instead, secure their right to use a business method by using the method.
USPTO Fee Setting Authority
During the times Congress set the fees, paying for a patent application and approval was at times too costly for each inventor to get all their inventions into the market as quick as practical in business. Leahy and Smith gave the Director of the Patent and Trademark Office the authority to set the fees for filing, issuance, and maintenance so the office can handle its workload efficiently and reduce the time it takes to give an American a patent.
1 Year Grace Period
Time to spare after an invention is first made still is important enough for the law to allow the inventor enough time to guarantee they have a worthwhile invention. A 1 year grace period before the patent prevents the inventor from having to take their time away from putting their invention into model form that is worthy of a patent to handle litigation. No disclosures they make during this year can be used against them and counted as prior art. Other inventors can not defeat their attempt to patent by using their disclosures to produce an art before the inventor takes the opportunity to file for a patent and get an approval.
The mark that gives everyone that looks at a product notice on a patent does not have to have a patent number. A inventor can mark the word "patent" on their product, or affix the word, and an Internet address an American can use to learn the patent number.
Change In Productive Work
Before, innovative Americans that could convince the office their invention passed the test of originality took the patent. Forget about the rights of the rest. Now, the inventor active enough to file first for the one right to use the invention has the patent.
America Invents Act (2011).
House Report on the America Invents Act, H. R. 1249, 112th Congress, 1st Session (June 1, 2011).