US Patents: Being first is about to change
March 16th marks the date where, amongst other changes, the US patent system, will assign priority to patents based upon their date of filing rather than the date of invention*.
Until March 16th 2013, priority can be established with a permanent record of invention, witnessed and signed by a non-inventor. Before then, it seems reasonable to expect a flurry of disclosures. As the end of this "first to invent" system nears, time is shortening for inventors with undisclosed inventions to establish priority, rather than risk being overtaken at the March deadline.
Once past, the approach to inventing and filing, I believe, will markedly change. Keeping witnessed records of invention will be insufficient to establish priority. Instead, I expect technology disclosures to become more frequent, with technologies being disclosed in a more incremental fashion, as the strategy of gathering material for one solid disclosure becomes risky.
Before the time comes, be sure to revise pertinent lab notes and take a decision as to whether they should formally be protected as an invention. First to file is coming soon.
*though 1 year of grace to file an application from the date of public disclosure will remain
White House Press Release Sept 2011