Thank you for your comment, @zridling, but some of your facts are, well, not facts. They're false.
A patent application trying to cover "Brown-colored desks" would have been invalid in 1789 and all the more today. Everyone would know it, and it would be worthless. That's a straw man argument, worthless as an example for productive discussion.
The US currently has a first-to-invent system, as it has had since its inception. The America Invents Act, which is still pending
before Congress (the House and Senate have passed different versions, which are likely to be reconciled and passed, then signed by the President) would, beginning at some future date
- move the US patent law to a first-to-file system. This change might be profitable for some attorneys who work for big companies (who have the cash to pay for a race to the Patent Office but also have the clout to drive down attorney rates), but it won't give any windfall whatsoever to patent attorneys who serve small inventors.
- allow the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to spend/reinvest all of the fees it collects for the first time in many years. That is, Congress has siphoned off money from patent applicants' fees to pay for its other spending projects, allowing that backlog to grow severely. The AIA will probably allow the USPTO to keep/spend applicants' fees.
Most inventors hate the backlog as much as noninventors, as do I. The delay and uncertainty it introduces make patent applications less valuable. In fast-moving markets, the sometimes seven-year wait for an examiner's first substantive evaluation of an application eviscerates the value entirely.
I am a patent attorney, and I serve inventors from the garage to the post-doctoral academic lab to the large company. I would love to have a discussion about patent policy and the US patent system, but I would not love to spend all of my time clearing up misinformation and baseless vitriol. @zridling, do you really prefer the latter?