United States patent law has traditionally been based on the proposition that the first inventor, not the first person to file a patent application, is the only person entitled to a patent. Nevertheless, the President's Commission on the Patent System has proposed that patent rights be awarded on a first-to-file basis, and this recommendation is now embodied in bills before Congress. The author urges that the conclusion that a pure first-to-file system would be better for the United States should not be too hastily drawn. He reveals that the present United States patent system is neither purely a first-to-invent nor first-to-file system, but a hybrid system containing many features of both that gives a great advantage to the first person to file a patent application while also retaining important aspects of a first-to-invent system.
George E. Frost,
The 1967 Patent Law Debate—First-to-Invent vs. First-to-File,
1967 Duke Law Journal
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol16/iss5/4