As expected, the recent change to the first-to-file system spurred a flurry of activity at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In fact, the USPTO has stated that the number of patent applications increased “three to four times” in the days before the conversion took place on March 16.
The new first-to-file system has several potential downsides for inventors. For instance, the new rules expand the range of disclosures that will be considered prior art, making it more difficult to successfully secure a patent. Therefore, those who were prepared to file before the changeover were encouraged to do so.
Based on early numbers from the USPTO, many patent applicants took advantage of the opportunity to use the old system. Although the USPTO has yet to count applications submitted by mail or in person, Brian Hanlon, the director of the agency’s office of patent legal administration, confirmed there was definitely a surge in activity.
Speaking at the Practising Legal Institute’s 7th Annual patent law conference, Hanlon also noted that the agency will now gear up to implement the new system. He also acknowledged that there may be some bumps in the road, as unanticipated issues will inevitably pop up in the next several months.
“The devil is in the details,” he said, and “we’re dancing with that devil right now.”
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