The US Small Business Alliance claims:
Despite the appeal of international harmonization, America’s unique patent system – and its singular ability to harness and protect the country’s small inventors – has played a fundamental role in helping it achieve its status as the global leader in technological innovation.
The first-to-invent patent system has been a major mechanism for the
dynamism of small business innovation. It guarantees that carefully and well-developed inventions are patented and at much less expense to the patentee than in first-to-file countries.
While the National Academy of Sciences report recommends reducing
international inconsistencies in patent law, it also recognizes that,
“Continuing high rates of innovation suggest that the patent system is
working well and does not require fundamental change.”
The scope for patent reform in the US is immense. No doubt most reforms will exasperate problems rather than solve them, as the real issues seem to be organizational rather than legal, but I can’t see any validity in the small business approach. First to file works well everywhere else. Why not in the US?
First to file does at least removes uncertainties from the system since filing is something that s easily dated, and with electronic filing on its way in, should remove most disputes on who came first.