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U.S. Patent Laws Have Changed

The First-to-File Provision of the America Invents Act (AIA) Went into Effect March 16, 2013
The AIA has transformed U.S. patent law by, among other changes, transitioning the patent system from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system. Starting March 16, 2013, U.S. patent rights will be granted to the first to file for a patent, rather than the first to invent the invention, meaning that in the event that two applicants seek to patent an invention the patent would generally be awarded to the first applicant to file. Fortunately, there are ways to help get your application filed as soon as possible.

Why a Provisional Application for Patent is a Good Idea.
Because it can take time to develop your invention, oftentimes, the quickest and easiest way to secure a filing date is through a provisional application for patent.
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Some of the AIA’s key provisions include (additional information is available on the USPTO website):
  • Transitioning the U.S. to a first-to-file system.
  • Providing an enhanced grace period for inventors to safeguard patent rights against disclosures made by inventors made one year or less before the effective filing date. This allows inventors to engage in crucial negotiations with potential buyers or investors without fear of losing their right to a patent.
  • Consistent with international norms, the definition of prior art now includes non-printed disclosures, including oral disclosures, made available to the public anywhere in the world.
  • Providing a 75% discount for patent fees to all applicants that qualify as micro entities.
You can learn more here.
Common Questions
  • If I am an inventor who filed a provisional application for patent in 2012 and am about to file my corresponding nonprovisional utility patent application, will my application be subject to the first-to-file provisions?
  • Once the first-to-file provisions take effect, would someone who copies my idea and files a patent application on the subject matter before I do be entitled to a patent?
  • What will be the new patent filing fees?
  • How do I know if I qualify for lower filing fees as a micro entity?
  • Can a person to whom the inventor has assigned or is under an obligation to assign the invention file for a patent?
  • What if I qualify as a micro entity and already have a pending LegalZoom order?
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