The patenting system is based on a first-to-file date, with respect to the assignment of priority among concurrent inventions. As new technologies and discoveries tend to open a flood gate of innovation, it may well happen that an invention is developed concurrently by different inventors.
Once an application is filed for an invention, subsequent applications, filed by other inventors for the same invention, will be rejected. Furthermore, as discussed above, any publication or public disclosure of an invention, released anywhere, will too invalidate subsequent applications, filed by other inventors for the same invention. It is important, therefore, to file an application as soon as possible, particularly if competing development is known or suspected to exist, or should publication or public disclosure of the invention is suspected to be imminent.
On the other hand, since modifications to described features in a filed application or the addition of new ones, are not permitted, development should be completed, or be as near to completion as possible, prior to filing. Most inventions, however, evolve through several stages of refinement, and it may be difficult to pronounce the development of an invention, at any one time, complete. One may be tempted to defer the filing of a patent application with each new improvement idea, risking rejection or invalidation due to an earlier application or publication, as noted above. It is always best to consult with a patent agency, like InventHelp patent invention agency, before filing a patent
Time to file
In contemplating this dilemma, it is important to remember that an improvement to an existing patent, including one’s own patent, constitutes one of the statutory classes of a patentable invention. As a matter of fact, some 90% of all present day inventions fall under this category, as the scope of human innovation has come to encompass practically every field of technology, with very few details escaping at least some degree of creative attention.
It is recommended then, that as soon as an invention is believed to have substantially reached its final form, or, in the case of suspected competition or imminent publication, has come reasonably near to it, a patent application should be filed. Ensuing developments, if significant, can then be filed as separate, though related, patents. InventHelp patent an idea agency can guide you in the process.
In the quest to bring an invention to market, an inventor may be driven to publish information about the invention and/or contact potential licensees and disclose details of the invention before a patent application for the invention is prepared and filed. In most countries of the world such publications and disclosures constitute prior art, and may preclude or invalidate the granting of a patent on the invention. In order to preserve one’s rights to a patent, a “non-disclosure agreement” must be signed before discussing an invention with a potential licensee.
In Canada and the US, a one-year “grace period” is prescribed, permitting an inventor (or a person who learned about the invention from the inventor) to publish details of an invention or disclose it publicly, so long as an application for the invention is filed within one year of such disclosure. Importantly, this provision is unique to Canada and the US (a six-month grace period is allowed in Japan). If international filing is intended, publication and disclose of an invention prior to the filing date must be avoided.