New Patent Rule Changes May Help Inventors

This past week (December 18, 2013) the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) made some major changes to the rules which will impact inventors and patent filers. These rule changes were the result of the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act (PLTIA) which was signed by President Obama in 2012. For those who want to read the full list of rule changes you can find them here:

Major Rule Changes:

  • Added two month grace period to file a non-provisional patent application after your provisional application expires.  Note this is only available if you forgot to file your non-provisional and this was "unintentional".  This rule change is actually huge.  In the past if you forgot to file your non-provisional application within 12 months from the date you filed your provisional you were out of luck and you would have lost your provisional application's earlier filing date.  Now, you have an extra two months to get your non-provisional filed (assuming you unintentional did not file it within that 12 month window).  Good news for inventors who sometimes forget to have their non-provisional filed on-time!
  • Reduced requirements to file a full non-provisional application.  In the past your non-provisional had to include at least one claim to be considered "valid".  However, that is no longer the case and your non-provisional does not need a claim (at least not upfront) to get a filing date.  You can file by simply referencing another patent application instead of submitting an entire new non-provisional application (although this is not a best practice).
  • More chances to revive or save an expired patent.  If you forgot or unintentionally did not pay a fee for a patent that has expired or gone abandoned, you now have more chances to try and save or revive that old patent. Again, this is good news for inventors.

Feel free to discuss this more on our forum here.