– Cynthia Hsu is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. –

President Obama recently signed into law the America Invents Act, a patent reform legislation that does away with the old “first to invent” rule. What does the patent reform mean for small businesses?

Most notably, the new legislation pushes Americans toward a “first to file” system, meaning that those who file for a patent first will get awarded the rights.

So is this change in the patent rules really a boon for entrepreneurs – or is it a bust?

The new law aims to simplify the patent registration process, and in turn aid entrepreneurs and encourage innovation. Patent filers are often met with legal obstacles. And, the “first to invent” rule was fuzzy enough to invite litigation.