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File First, File Fast for Patenting

April 15, 2015

New products or processes may be just around the corner, but how can you protect the idea, technology, or process through patenting? Thanks to a landmark ruling, you may face new challenges—and timelines—for patenting ideas.

The America Invents Act
The rollout of a first phase of the America Invents Act (AIA) in 2013 dramatically changed the way inventions are patented. Formerly considered a “first-to-invent” country, this legislation shifted the U.S. to a “first-to-file,” or “first-inventor-to-file” system. Whereas before business owners could create and implement a concept, then file for patent protection and demonstrate usage, it’s now more important to file first, or contact a patent attorney before taking an idea to market.

The legislation also expanded the definition of prior art, used to determine patentability, to include public use, sales, publications and any disclosures available to the public anywhere as of the filing date.

New Risks
Why file for a patent? Because doing so can not only protect your company’s interests, but it can also help attract crucial investors to secure capital and continue the innovation process. Before contacting a patent attorney, peruse the legislation and stipulations of AIA on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website, where FAQs and guidelines are spelled out in detail.