Patent Reform Act: A Brief Guide for the Small Business Inventor
The Smith-Leahy Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on September 16, 2011, but since then there has been a lot of confusion over how it will impact the solo inventor and small businesses. While no piece of Congressional legislation can be fully and accurately assessed for several years after its passage – during which numerous lawsuits will be appealed to higher courts which will determine in published opinions what the various parts of the new law “really mean” – there are some quick takeaways that are becoming apparent from the “America Invents Act” or “AIA”.
Will changing from a “first to invent” to a “first to file” allow “big companies” to rip-off small inventors?
This is a concern I hear frequently (from small inventors). I don’t think it will change things much. Under the old system, there were ways that “first” inventors who could prove that they invented a particular invention before a “second” person, where the second person filed a patent application on the invention first, and could be awarded the patent even though they were the second to file. This system appears not to have worked well, with very few of the cases brought under this law resolved in favor of the person who claimed to be the first to invent and yet was second to file a patent application.
I don’t think the new law will have that much of an impact. First, even under the old law very few “first to invent but second to file” applicants won their cases. Second, with provisional patent applications there is really not much of an excuse for small inventors to not file for provisional protection before they pitch their product to the big company they fear will rip them off.
As an aside, I think that inventors all over the world benefit from harmonized patent laws. Most of the rest of the world, or at least the important countries in terms of patent protection, work under a “first to file” law, so I see a general improvement in everyone working under the same set of rules.
“First to File” officially goes into effect on March 16, 2013.
What about the “Micro-Inventor”?
This is a provision that will, in the future, allow some solo inventors, universities, and inventors who have to assign their patent rights to universitiesto get a further discount below the already low fees for “small entities”. However, the qualifications to file as a micro-entity are fairly complicated, and considering that you can lose your patent in some cases if you claim a “smaller” status that you should, it will be safer to file as a small entity if you have any doubts.
Registered trademark for LAG Bag was issued on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 to ICIP Client Jessie Georgina, LLC of San Diego.
Patent Issued for Method and Appratus for Applying Plasma Particles to a Liquid and Use for Disinfecting Water.
InterContinental IP Client Alfredo Zolezzi-Garreton was issued a patent on his invention of Method and Apparatus for Applying Plasma Particles to a Liquid and Use for Disinfecting Water.
The invention provides a method and apparatus for creating plasma particles and applying the plasma particles to a liquid. Liquid feedstock (e.g., water and/or hydrocarbons mixed with biomass) is pumped through a pipeline; the single-phase stream is then transformed into a biphasic liquid-and-gas stream inside a chamber. The transformation is achieved by transitioning the stream from a high pressure zone to a lower-pressure zone. The pressure drop may occur when the stream further passes through a device for atomizing liquid. Inside the chamber, an electric field is generated with an intensity level that exceeds the threshold of breakdown voltage of the biphasic medium leading to a generation of a plasma state. Furthermore, the invention provides an energy-efficient highly adaptable and versatile method and apparatus for sanitizing water using plasma particles to inactivate biological agents contaminating water.