If your small business holds any patents or might in the future, listen up: Some big changes have gone into effect recently. On September 16, the second set of rules under the America Invents Act of 2011 took hold. If all goes according to plan, they’ll likely be making the patent process a less painful one for small businesses.
Thanks to an article on Inc.com for the breakdown. Here’s what you can expect:
An end to drawn out disputes. The AIA will take the patent dispute cases out of district court and put it back into the lap of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Though some are concerned that this added responsibility will tie up other proceedings at the USPTO, there’s likely no need to worry, as the agency has already began hiring dozens of judges to handle these disputes.
Competitors can challenge the patent earlier than ever before. Gone are the days of having to wait until a patent has gone through the entire filing process before a competing business could challenge it – saving a boatload of time and likely costly litigation proceedings down the line. With the new rules, if a competing business submits a patent that would interfere with your business, you’ll have the ability to submit information regarding that patent to the examiner on the case before a decision has been made regarding its validity.
Stay tuned for more changes. As of March 16, the America Invents Act will change the current “first to invent” patent system to a “first to file” system – meaning small businesses with ideas and inventions ought to file the paperwork as soon as possible or they’ll run the risk of losing the right to patent down the road.
Do you have any small business patents?