> Is this the "new" American thing about "first to file"?
There is nothing new or American about it. It's what most other countries use.
> Actually, no. You *CAN'T* (lawfully at least, legally in a court is a different thing) infringe a patent if you invent *and* *publish* first.
What the courts decide is what is 'lawfully and legally'. Whether or not this meshes with what you are reading into the law is irrelevant.
In fact it seems that primary purpose of high courts in the USA is to simply convince people that what is obviously illegal or against the spirit of the law is actually 'A-OK'.
> Yes yes, I know reality is different, they'll get the patent and sue me, but the law is clear their patent is invalid. If I were a yank that wouldn't stop me losing my shirt trying to prove that.
You would lose your shirt, your business, your ability to feed and care for your family along with causing everybody that depends on you for their jobs and their retirement to lose their shirts also. Fighting a patent and winning is still losing for the majority of people. This isn't a accident of history or just reflects a inefficiency or accident in the bureaucratic process. I am pretty sure that it's by design.
The best way to fight it is to get the maximum amount of people to acknowledge the illegitimacy of the concept of monopoly ownership of ideas.
Hopefully people will find effective ways to fight new regimes created by patent reform, but at best it's just a band-aid.