With the U.S. Patent Office changing to a "first-to-file" system on March 16, the race to file patent applications ahead of that change has kept many patent law firms frantically busy for the past few weeks. Patent experts including GPC's Alexander Poltorak had predicted that this would be the outcome of the America Invents Act - and that smaller inventors will be the biggest losers under the new system. ("Inventors Race to File Patents" Wall Street Journal - March 14, 2013)
Article excerpt: On Saturday, the U.S. will switch to a "first-to-file" system. As a result, the PTO will give priority to those who file their applications first regardless of any independent evidence that another inventor may have actually come up with the idea earlier. The switch was made largely to harmonize U.S. law with the rest of the world, most of which follows versions of the "first-to-file" system.
The changes are likely to pose challenges to inventors working alone or inside smaller companies. Under "first-to-invent," these inventors could spend time with an idea before committing to a patent application.
Now, "small companies will no longer have the time to assess the commercial value of an idea," said Thomas Mercolino, the chief executive of CertiRx Corp., a five-employee company based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The firm makes authentication technologies for pharmaceuticals and other products.
Alexander Poltorak, the CEO of General Patent Corp., which helps patent owners manage and license their intellectual property, said: "The law is a gift to big business. It's going to result in a race to the patent office, and that's a race that smaller inventors are typically going to lose."