The most comprehensive reform of US patent law for a generation is due to take effect today, when the America Invents Act is made law. The changes bring US law into greater conformity with the laws in the rest of the industrialised world, according to Withers & Rogers.
Among the key legislative changes, US patent law is adopting the ‘first-inventor-to-file’ rule, which applies in Europe. Until now, any dispute about the ownership of a patent for an invention was decided in favour of the person able to prove that he or she came up with the invention first.
This approach led to costly litigation to establish the dates of the invention. Instead, US law will mirror the legal position in Europe, with the right of ownership going to the first person to file a patent application. This change will take effect in 18 months’ time.