Patent Craziness

01Feb2012

mtr

So I was on a panel yesterday at the Boston CTO Club talking about the new patent law.  It was pretty awesome since I was the only person on the panel that wasn't a lawyer ;)

The conversation cetnered around a few key points in the new laws, which aren't in effect yet (they get phased in over the next 18 months or so):

  • First to file versus first to invent
  • Disclosure Changes
  • Post grant review

The changes were supposed to get us (the US) more aligned with the rest of the world regarding being a first-to-file system -- but everyone agreed that we didnt' really get there. 

Not surprisingly, most of the changes once again tilt the system in favor of the major corporations, away from the indiependnent innovator and startup -- not a big surprise since the small guy doesn't really have any money to throw around for special interest lobbying ;)  In particular, it used to be, in the USA, that you could use engineering notebooks and other documentation in a fight over preserving an patent.  So if someone claimed they invented before you because they filed an applicaiton before you, the documentation history of your invention and how it came about could be used in the fight.  No more. 

This means the first one to file the application wins.  File early boys and girls.  File early.  The upside is that the provisional applications suddently become much more interesting in our industry.  As long as the utility patent is filed within a year of the provisional, a provisional (which can be just your design document or the like) preserves your filing date. And the cost of filing a provisional is far smaller (of course, when I say "cost" I don't mean the filing fees, but the overall cost since you really want a patent attorney to handle your utility patent filings where a provisional can be done with just your engineering documents).  

It's getting harder and harder to be the small guy ;)

 

 

 

 

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