At 12:01 am on 16 September 2012, seven new provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 went into effect. The new rules are intended to streamline the patent application process and introduce new procedures to ensure patent quality, spur innovation and grow the economy.
The rules that went into effect include:
- The Oath and/or Declaration finally allows an assignee, rather than an inventor, to file a patent application;
- Inter partes review, post-grant review, and the transitional program for covered business method patents give third parties timely and cost-effective alternatives to federal litigation to challenge the patentability of an issued patent;
- Applicants can now submit additional information relevant to the patentability of an issued patent to the Office; this new procedure may protect the patent from an inequitable conduct charge;
- The citation of prior art and written statements provision now enable the Office to treat the patent claims consistently with the patent owner’s representation of its claims to the courts or in other Office proceedings.
These steps are just the beginning: look for the first-to-file requirement to go into effect in 2013; that will be huge.