On March 16, 2013, with the enactment of the America Invents Act, the United States Patent Office has switched from a first-to-Invent system to a first-to-file system. Previously, with the first-to-invent system, patent rights were granted to an entity or person that is the first to invent a new, non-obivous and useful invention. However, the switch by the US conforms to the rest of the world, which already followed a First-to-File system, wherein patent rights are granted to the person or entity who is the first to file a patent application.
Proponents of the Act argued that the United States should adopt the First-to-File system to harmonize the United States patent system with the rest of the world. Additionally, proponents argue the First-to-File system is beneficial because it provides a clear, bright-line approach in determining the owner of a patent by simply looking to who filed the patent application paperwork.
On the other hand, opponents to the Act argued that the First-to-File structure will hurt small businesses and individual inventors. They argue the First-to File system is harmful to small business owners and individual inventors because they have limited resources to file a patent application. As such, opponents argue the First-to File system benefits big businesses that can afford filing patent applications, which can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000.
Nonetheless, the United States currently follows the first-to-file system, or FTF, where it is obviously an advantage to get an application on file as soon as possible, as the right to the grant of a patent for a given invention lies with the first person to file a patent application for protection of that invention, regardless of the date of actual invention.