The American Invents Act
The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), which is the most important change in U.S. patent legislation since 1952, was signed into law in 2011. The law is being implemented in three phases. The most important and final phase will be introduced on March 16, 2013. The new law will align U.S. patent processes with the rest of the world. The change will mean that instead of a “first to invent” system, the US will adopt a “first to file” system. After March 16, 2013, the date a patent application is filed with the USPTO will determine who has priority in the rights to a patent.
What you need to know about this important change to US patent law
Prior to March 16, 2013, an inventor might still be able to obtain a patent in the U.S. if he/she could prove through laboratory notebook documentation that he/she was the first to invent even if he/she was not first to file a patent application. Under the AIA, an inventor must be the first to file a patent application in order to be granted a patent. This change becomes important when a researcher considers disclosing patentable subject matter in a public setting, such as a conference or public interview.
Another element of the AIA is establishment of a fast-track option for patent prosecution. The fast track has the potential to reduce prosecution time from what is now typically three years to as little as twelve months. Since an issued patent can help secure early stage funding, this option could encourage more seed funding and venture capital investment in Tufts early-stage technologies.
The AIA necessitates that investigators avoid any public disclosure of their invention before a patent application has been filed. Tufts Tech Transfer is available to discuss these changes to the U.S. patent system. Researchers who plan to present research that may be patentable are encouraged to contact the office prior to any disclosure. We look forward to working with you to ensure protection of your Tufts inventions under the new system.