Part of any company’s patent strategy is heading off competitors’ patent filings before issuance by bringing to the attention of USPTO the existence of prior art. America Invents Act (AIA) has made this process easier.
Steve Hanson of Hanson IP Law, PLLC, describes what things used to be like before AIA. Though challengers were allowed to submit evidence of prior art to help in the examination process, “under pre-AIA law, any submitted prior art was merely placed in the patent file and would not necessarily be considered by the examiner.”
AIA created a new process for “pre-issuance submissions” under which the patent examiners “must consider references submitted by third parties if they satisfy specific requirements.” The new system went into effect mid-September and is relatively inexpensive to use.