The first-to-file system, which went into effect on March 16, 2013, is but one more step towards unifying the patent landscape in the US with the rest of the world. But, as Wysebridge reports, it's not a "pure" first to file system.
With a pure first to file system, the following are some general rules:
1) Any public disclosure of the invention, PRIOR to filing an application, prevents you from obtaining a patent. Basically, if the invention becomes publicly known before an application is filed, the patent will not be awarded. This drives forward the necessity to file patents rapidly.
2) Awarding of a Patent will be based on when the application was submitted. No longer will inventors be able to show prior conception of an invention to obtain a patent. The date that is important is the date of filing the application.
Thus, under a "pure" first to file system, using the above scenario, Jerry would have been awarded the patent.
However, the US has a modified version of "first to file." Currently, an inventor can publicly disclose their invention (on a blog, in a paper, etc), and still be able to file a patent application within one year of the first public disclosure. In foreign countries, the inventor would NOT be able to file for a patent. Thus, in the US, the new system can be thought of as a "first to disclose" system, and in the absence of any public disclosure, it is a "first to file" system. One caveat though. If an inventor in the US publicly discloses their invention, even though they can apply for a patent in the US, they forfeit any potential foreign patents, as this prevents receiving a patent on the disclosed invention.
One more example to help illustrate the changes:
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