Liberal Studies


The United States patent system is crucial in protecting our intellectual property and strengthening our position in the world economy. The U.S. Constitution specifically empowers Congress to issue patents in order to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.” This research paper explores how The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) has impacted independent inventors and small businesses in the United States. In this study, I used secondary analysis of existing research and statistical data from the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) to examine this issue as it pertains to economic competitiveness (creativity and innovation), job creation / reduction, and legal. The most significant change by the AIA made to the patent law was the move from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file patent system. The second change was the 1-year commercial use limitation for any patent applicant to use an invention prior to filing an application for a patent. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act has modified a 60-year-old patent system and brought us more in line with the rest of the patent systems in the world but it is having some damaging effects to the innovation and creativity here in the United States. Some of these effects result in diminishing patent quality and surging increase in patent applications reported by the USPTO. Going forward, we need to continue to closely monitor the quality and quantity of patents being filed and granted by U.S. based independent inventors and small businesses in comparison to foreign origin patent applications and grants.