Last year, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (the AIA) became law, and has been called the most sweeping change to US patent law since 1836. For the companies we serve, that's bull. This will bring no major change to how emerging growth companies invent, file, and protect their IP.
We work to help technology companies in fields like optics, nanotech, IT and materials science grow revenue and company value. These companies file patents to create competitive advantage, a marketing edge, and to create an IP portfolio of value in their exit strategy. They're competing against bigger companies on nimbleness and speed to market, knowing that they don't have the deep pockets to litigate.
The USPTO's "sweeping changes" appear to simplify the patent process, but in practice won't help small companies. We've moved from "first to invent" to "first to file", joining the rest of the world. This may simplify litigation but doesn't change our advice to companies looking to file:
- File as early as possible
- Disclosure always starts the clock--key meetings, tradeshows
- Consider filing a provisional if time is tight and you're undecided which patents will pay off
We expect these changes to have little effect on patent strategy or smart IP portfolio management. We also expect this law to have no economic impact. Our patent agents have always competed in the race to be first to file, and we'll continue to help companies go to market faster by protecting their IP and creating competitive advantage.