On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed the America Invents Act into law and it will become fully effective on March 16, 2013. The Act changes U.S. patent law from first-to-invent (FTI) to first-to-file (FTF) and will be a step towards a more globally uniformed patent system, as the FTF system dominates throughout the rest of the world. This change is expected to reduce the time it takes to get a patent approved and the number of frivolous patent applications. The Act’s post-grant review allows for a 9 month window in which challengers can establish their property rights. This is a change from the previous law, which specified that patents could be challenged for up to one year and placed the burden on the applicant to establish his rights.
To date, no changes have been made to the eligibility of business methods for patents. Changes are expected over the next year during which time the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is granted the responsibility of stipulating which patent subject matters are eligible for protection. An 8 year post-grant review for the validity of business method patents will become effective on September 16, 2012 for patents issued before, on, or after this date.
Under the new law, inventors likely will need to file for patents as soon as possible and keep the inventions secret in order to protect their patent rights. The Lei Jiang Law Firm provides quality legal services in the area of patent law. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our office.