From our colleague Robert Benson in Los Angeles, here is a helpful summary of the recent patent law changes as a result of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (H.R. 1249) signed into law on Friday, September 16, 2011. The biggest change – giving priority to the inventor “first-to-file” rather than the one who was “first-to-invent” – becomes effective 18 months from enactment, while a number of other changes kick in immediately. For those of us accustomed to the prior U.S. system that focused on the first person to create the invention, this will be an adjustment. It will bring us in line, however, with many international patent systems. Those in tech companies will want to make sure their engineering and other technical staff are aware of the new system on at least a general level, with the individuals responsible for IP strategy and protection becoming familiar with the details.