Prior to March 16, 2013, the United States was a first to invent country. This meant that even if someone filed first, if you could prove that you came up with the invention first, you would get the patent.
Then, everything changed. The United States joined most of the rest of the world under the “first to file” provisions of the America’s Invent Act of 2011. This voided the idea of the “poor man’s patent”, where inventors would mail their invention disclosure to themselves to keep it secret while being able to later prove that they came up with the idea first.
Under the old laws, if you came up with an idea first and someone else filed first, you could file an interference proceeding. These were extremely expensive running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus not helping the small inventor.
The best way to protect your idea is to meet with a registered patent attorney. The registered patent attorneys at the Daniel Law Offices are proficient in helping you protect your ideas.
If you believe that you have an idea that you want protected, contact Orlando's Daniel Law Offices at 866-37PATENT.