New Patent Laws May Destory the Independent American Inventor

Invention News

Tony Fulford, our Guest Blogger, is an independent inventor dedicated to enhancing and protecting America’s unique natural resource…the small independent inventor.

We asked him to help us raise awareness about proposed changes to the U.S. Patent Laws that some argue could serve to destroy the small independent inventor.

Here's his article:

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The patent laws in the United States are about to change and the proposed changes could destroy the small independent inventor.

The current American patent system is based on first-to-invent as opposed to first-to-file as in most other countries. What this means is in the United States, as long as the small inventor:

  • has idea(s) that are new, i.e., unique
  • idea(s) that are not obvious
  • properly records their idea(s)
  • has their idea(s) properly witnessed and signed
  • practices due-diligence in pursuing their ideas

They, and they alone, are the owner of an idea that is worthy of a patent.

The small inventor can have many ideas that meet the above criteria, but many do not have the financial resources to file a non-provisional patent application (about $10,000 to $15,000) to properly claim their ownership for the idea and turn it into an issued patent. Currently, one of the main ways they can practice due-diligence on their invention is to file a Provisional Application for Patent, which only cost $100 to file. This application, although it must be thorough enough for someone familiar with the area of the idea to produce it, it does not have the rigorous criteria of a non-provisional patent application and therefore cost much less to have it prepared.

On the other hand, large corporations have the staff and financial resources to file non-provisional patent applications at will.

Now, if Senate Bill S 1145 (Patent Reform Act of 2007 ) is passed into law, the U.S. will have a first-to-file patent system as most other countries are today. This means that the Provisional Application for Patent will no longer exist. As a result, the small inventor with limited financial resources will no longer have an appropriate mechanism to practice due-diligence without substantial expense. Then, time will pass without the small inventor being able to prove they are practicing due-diligence. Sooner or later, the large corporations will stumble across the idea (even a blind hog roots an acorn every now and then) and end up patenting it before the small inventor. Under this system, the small inventor will likely remain a small POOR inventor.

Small companies and small independent inventors are the heart and soul of this country. Do we want to relinquish innovation to the large corporations. I don't think so! Please help stop this pending legislation.

A good overview of the issues is available at's article "Inventors Cry Foul" .

To find out more about what you can do to save the small independent American inventor, you can check out the Inventor Forums at's as well as the InnovationAlliance's website.

Anthony Lawton Fulford
Guest Blogger

Jan 10, 2008
by Anonymous (not verified)

the whole world is a first

the whole world is a first to file system- has it destroyed the world's small inventors? what is a small inventor anyway?

Jan 15, 2008
by Jesse Urban (not verified)

Is this really true?

I've been prototyping several inventions for a few years now after graduating from college, and the provisional patent application has been invaluable with my small budget. Are you sure that this bill would eliminate the PPA? If so this would be ruinous for inventors trying to get started (for me first by licensing, then using that as capital to start a company). I'm not clear on why a PPA could still not be filed, being that it is very tied to submitting a regular patent application (is referred to within a year by regular application).

Jan 25, 2008
by Levi Porter
Levi Porter's picture

Why Lie or give false information to make a point !?

I agree that changing to the first to file is bad for many reasons.

However, misleading to make a point only invalidates the motive, and weakens the point.

The statement that a non provision application costs "(about $10,000 to $15,000)" is like saying that a provisional costs between 2,000 and 3,000. Utter nonsense without further explanation of attorney or agent fees.

I support your efforts to stop the first to file bill.... Please use better tactics with a higher standard of professionalism if you are genuine.

Levi Porter