The new America Invents Act (AIA) was signed into law in September 2011. The longstanding “first-to-invent” patent system will soon be replaced by a new, “first-inventor-to-file” system for patent applications filed after March 15, 2013.
Technology developers and entrepreneurs can prosper under this new law by submitting well-researched, well-written, reasonably-priced provisional patent applications to quickly gain a first-inventor-to-file, “patent pending” status.
Once a provisional patent application is filed, the owner of the application has one year to decide whether to file a more complete non-provisional application. It is the non-provisional application that will be placed before a U.S. Patent Examiner and, once granted, issue as a U.S. patent.
In a startup company where every dollar counts, the costs associated with executing a comprehensive patent strategy might seem like a deterrent. But there’s some good news in the AIA for entrepreneurs on that front: The AIA introduced a new micro-entity status that will give qualifying companies a 75% discount on most patent fees. Of course, companies will still need to pay a patent attorney or agent to prepare applications, but even those costs are often very modest when compared to the value of the resulting patents.
For most small to medium-size businesses, the provisional route makes the most sense, since very often the technology has not yet been shown to be marketable. During the year the provisional application is pending, the technology can be disclosed to potential commercial partners and investors, with patent pending status protecting against others walking away with your concept. After one year, if you decide not to move forward with your invention, you won’t have spent more than necessary to get the patent pending protection you needed. And if you do decide to move forward, your provisional application will be the springboard for a non-provisional patent application that will have the best chance of being granted and respected by others in your industry.
The attorneys at Cook Alex are experts in researching, writing, illustrating and filing superior quality provisional patent applications for technology firms, investors and individual inventors. Many clients have taken advantage of our IP Fast Track Program to be “the first inventor to file” and receive “patent pending” status in a thoughtful, quick and reliable way.