What Is the First to File Rule?

The first to file rule can mean different things depending on the context. In the context of federal court proceedings, the first to file rule states that whoever is the first party to file a lawsuit is awarded their home courts for the location of the trial or legal proceedings.

In the context of intellectual property and patent filing, the first to file rule ensures that the first person to file a patent for an invention usually gains the right to sell the invention.

Key Takeaways:

  • The first to file rule states that whoever is the first party to file a lawsuit is awarded their home courts for the location of the trial or legal proceedings.
  • The first to file rule also applies to patent application and ensures that the first person to file a patent for an invention usually gains the right to sell the invention.
  • Inventors should file for a patent as soon as possible so that copycats do not steal their intellectual property.

Understanding the First to File Rule

The first to file rule can mean different things depending on the context.

The Federal Litigation First to File Rule

The first to file rule states that whoever is the first party to file a lawsuit is awarded their home courts for the location of the trial or legal proceedings. This provides an advantage in that the litigator may be familiar with the judge or court and will not incur extra costs, such as travel expenses.

The litigator also would not have to leave their home to stay in a hotel for the duration of the trial. The first to file rule is just a general rule. It is not a law that dictates all proceedings, and exceptions can be made.

Intellectual Property and Patent Filing

Patent filing is complicated, and many investors hire a lawyer to help them with the process. It requires research to make sure a patent does not already exist for a similar creation. The first person to file a patent for an invention may receive the patent when accepted. Even if this person is not the first to create the invention, they are the owner of the patent because they were the first to file.

The patent allows the inventor to sell the creation. The patent offices require the application to have a competitive edge to sell the product within the patent's lifetime. While the first to file may receive the patent first, the application could be denied several times in the process. This could mean that another applicant beats them to the post and is granted the patent.

For this reason, delaying an intellectual property (IP) application is not advised. The first to file rule has a short grace period between applicants to acquire the specific and individual patent, and an inventor should file before disclosing any details with the invention to include offering the item for sale. This is essential to avoid copycats from using the design.

Hiring a Lawyer for First to File

To avoid legal entanglements or to provide assistance with the first to file patent rules, the inventor may need a patent lawyer for assistance. The legal professional will work to protect the rights of the inventor, and the lawyer may assist or support the inventor through the patent application process.