Patent Protection - Businesses that fail to heed new provisions of the America Invents Act run the risk of losing their ideas to others


Originally published in January - February 2013 |

The America Invents Act represents the most significant reform of the United States patent system in 60 years. Signed into law in the fall of 2011, a number of provisions impacting Michigan and the nation have recently, or will soon, become effective. Given Michigan’s intellectual resources and the fact that the state is one of the top five filers of patent applications nationwide, it is important that businesses and industries be prepared to address the new provisions. The most notable reform to the act will become effective on March 16 when the United States will join the rest of the world in switching from a first-to-invent system to a first-to-file system. Instead of awarding patents to the first who conceived an invention, patents will now be awarded to the first to file a patent application.

Businesses preparing for the upcoming reform are streamlining their processes to minimize the time required to: learn of new ideas for inventions (through regular think-tank meetings, for example); develop such ideas as viable inventions; disclose such inventions to patent counsel; and prepare and file the patent applications. Given the historical truism that two or more persons in different locations often conceive the same innovation at approximately the same time, such streamlining is critical in order to win the race to file.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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