The AIA has started a race to the patent office. This will be especially true for technologies where several inventors, research teams or companies are working to solve a similar problem. In the end, it will be more of a marathon for many inventors. Inventors who are in the active R&D phase will want to file provisional patents frequently, for each incremental improvement and development during the year following the first provisional patent filing on the subject matter. All of the subject matter in the several provisional applications can be aggregated into a single non-provisional application.
The date of invention conception, or reduction to practice, is nearly irrelevant under the new patent laws. The important date is when it gets on record at the patent office. Thus, organizations that can react quickly will be rewarded. Those in the quagmire of bureaucracy will suffer greatly. If your organization is in the invention arena, it will be critical for there to be an internal system in place for reporting or identifying potential inventions, recording the details, assessing the commercial value and making the decision whether to file a patent application or defensively publish, and working with patent counsel to prepare and file a patent application quickly. Using a provisional patent application as your first filing will reduce the cost and time to filing and will undoubtably be the vehicle of choice for most organizations.
Education will be what sets apart these organizations. Those that take the time to train their key people on the process will be in the best position to win the race to the patent office. There will be a great advantage to training your key personnel on conducting early stage patentability searches and preparing the invention disclosure systematically for patent counsel to convert it quickly to an enforceable patent application. Engaging patent counsel to hold a training seminar and help devise invention reporting procedures and evaluations at your company can prove to be an investment with significant ROI.