Little has been heard in the news and few individuals will be directly affected, but the Patent Office's changeover to "First To File Rule" is likely to have a profound effect on innovation, the process by which inventions find their way to market.
For details read Patent Office -- "First to File'' Bill (2011)
The rest of the world has been on the First To File (FTF) all along. Only the US has managed the granting of patents by the First To Invent (FTI) rule and the difference is profound.
As I have written elsewhere in this blog the FTI rule creates the poorly understood consequence of allowing an inventor to claim "prior art" against an issued patent and obtain a disallowance of the patent in whole or in part. For RIM (Research In Motion), makers of the Blackberry, it played out in a disastrous chain of events (details see Blackberry).