This bill would amend federal patent law to define the “effective filing date” of a claimed invention as the actual filing date of the patent or the application for patent containing a claim to the invention (thus replacing the current “first inventor to use” system with a “first inventor to file” system). Establishes a one-year grace period for inventors to file an application after certain disclosures of the claimed invention by the inventor or another who obtained the subject matter from the inventor. Revises provisions concerning novelty and nonobvious subject matter (commonly referred to as conditions for patentability). Repeals provisions relating to inventions made abroad and statutory invention registration. Permits a civil action by a patent owner against another patent owner claiming to have the same invention and who has an earlier effective filing date if the invention claimed by the earlier patent owner was derived from the inventor claimed in the patent owned by the person seeking relief. Requires such an action to be filed before the end of a specified one-year period.
Expresses the sense of Congress that converting from a “first inventor to use” to a “first inventor to file” patent registration system will: (1) provide inventors with greater certainty regarding the scope of protection, and (2) promote international uniformity by harmonizing the U.S. patent registration system with systems commonly used in other countries with whom the United States conducts trade.
HR 1249 was signed into law on 16 September 2011.