This is BAD
The United States was the last country left where the patent process (at least in theory) protects the inventor rather than the one to file.
Filing for a patent is expensive. Before this law, your invention, even if not patented for one year, had some degree of protection - not a problem when you're a corporation with lots of $$$. In effect, one more law that benefits deep pockets, and strips away the rights of the common citizen vs. the corporation.
What is the Difference?
- the law right now:
You invent something. You make a record of it, or you publish your invention, say by writing a paper that describes it - for example in a scientific journal - or show it in a science fair, writing an Instructable, a blog or Youtube, etc.
According to the way the United States has been doing things forever, YOU and only you own the invention. You may file for a patent within one year, and nobody else can take your rights, when you point out that you had the invention "reduced to practice" before they did, which is easy if you were really public about it - lots of law and court precedents. The moment you made it known to the public, for every other country in the world your invention became "prior art", so outside the US your invention is now pretty much in the public domain and cannot be patented there at all, by you or anybody. They can manufacture and make use of your idea, and you cannot complain unless they sell it in the US.
In the land of the free, for one year you can try to market your invention quite publicly, take it to industry conferences, look for an investor, etc., even while you do not have the money to pursue a patent (though getting at least a provisional patent is highly encouraged). These rights apply also to foreign inventors, but only in the USA (and they wonder why more inventions get support here than in their own countries...)
- The AIA way:
I quote from a comment by Pressman "if two applicants apply for respective patents on the same invention, the first applicant's patent application can be used to reject the later applicant's claims, even if the later applicant can prove they invented it first."
That sort of says it all. Starting March 16, 2013, basically anybody can step up to the USPTO and file for that idea of yours that they read about it in your blog or saw at that conference. Yes, certainly there is still a derivation proceeding format, but it becomes much harder - your lab notes and your prior publication matter much less because you did not file for as patent! They did.
Just publishing your idea, or trying to market it without a patent is more dangerous than ever!
Anything good in the AIA?
You wonder if there was ever a real good intention, or it just was made to look that way. The "unintended consequences" are so obvious it's not even funny.
it will be easier to buy your way in. You got $2,400? that could buy you a "priorized examination" - that is, if corporations left open any of the 10.000 slots available the first year.
Unintended effects of other several supposedly "positive" elements of the law will make the USPTO backlog grow even worse, delays in granting patents longer, and excuses to disallow your patent more frequent. There is even some provision to waive 75% of the fees for microinventors, independents who have few patents and are "under-resourced", and a call for pro-bono.
Do you think that will work? I quote from B.Milliron, an Amazon reviewer, "The examiner is NOT your friend and they have no obligation to be reasonable. In fact they have every incentive to be unreasonable. An abandoned application is preferable to a patent with strong protections because the latter may end up in court and a judge might decide the patent was overbroad, a risk the examiner would rather not take." Yes, it is possible to fight those unending "unconvincing" or "I don't get it" that I am told are the usual response to a patent application, and win, but you better have a great lawyer. I hear those are cheaper by the dozen and quite affordable by the independent, what do you think?
Link to the analysis of the AIA law by David Pressman, noted IP lawyer and author, from his website IntellectualPropertyLawFirms.com