USPTO

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The new America Invents Act was signed into law by President Obama in September 2011. The U.S. will award patents to inventors from a first-to-invent basis to a first-to-file basis. The Patent Office will now be able to set its own fees and manage its own budget allowing them to invest in more patent examiners and better technology improving speed of the process This part of the new act will also help address the growing backlog. (It takes inventors seeking a patent up to 3 years to get the first decision and as long as 5 years to get the patent grant)

First-to-invent

When an inventor wants to patent his invention, the date of the invention will be the date of conception. Should a second patent application be filed for the same invention, the second applicant can institute interference proceedings to determine who was the first inventor and thereby who is entitled to the grant of a patent.

First-to-file

In a first-to-file / first-inventor-to-file system, 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. If there are multiple inventors, the first one to file for a patent is the one who gets the patent. The first-to-file system means that inventors in the U.S will now have an incentive to bring their ideas forward in published applications.

America Invents Act

There are provisional applications that serve as placeholders for 12 months without having to be fully developed patent applications. The new act establishes a “micro-entity” status that provides a 75 % discount on the fees and is targeted at individual inventors. The act is seen as the most significant change to the U.S patent laws since the 1950s.

Read more:
http://www.uspto.gov/patent/laws-and-regulations/america-invents-act-aia/america-invents-act-aia-frequently-asked