First to File becomes the rule.
I always enjoy teaching the "So You've Got A Great Idea" class, and get to meet with very smart people and see their wonderful inventions. I particularly enjoy helping them move their idea forward on the path to a profitable product.
That path is a new one for many, as of the 16th of September. It will be the first person to file for a patent that will have the right to patent a product, not the first to invent. The first-to-file system will take effect 18 months from now.
What that means is if you have an invention, and you think it is patentable, don't wait. Get at least a provisional patent filed as quickly as you can. If someone steals it and files first, you may be out of luck.
One good aspect of the 'reform' is a reduction in the Patent Office fees for the small entity. Check out uspto.gov for the current fee schedule.
Note that many products are not patentable - and you can still protect your idea through copyright, trademark, trade secret and other means. As importantly, you should be thinking of getting it into the market as quickly as you can.