On March 16, 2013 the U.S. switched from a “first to invent” to a “first inventor to file” system (see AIA overview). Regardless of this change, Skysong Innovations still encourages all researchers to maintain good laboratory notebooks to document conception and reduction to practice of inventions.
In the U.S., a patent gives the holder the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell and importing the patented invention. A patent does not necessarily provide the holder any affirmative right to practice a technology since it may fall under a broader patent owned by others. Other laws or regulations may also prevent the patent holder from using his or her invention (such as a patented drug compound that fails to gain FDA approval). Instead, the patent provides the right to exclude others from practicing the invention. Patent claims are the legal definition of an inventor’s protectable invention.