USPTO May Require Greater Transparency in Patent Ownership

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is considering new regulations that will require greater transparency concerning the ownership of patent applications and patents. The goal is to provide more accurate patent ownership information to the public.

Under the proposal, applicants will have to provide real-party-in-interest information during patent prosecution and at certain times post-issuance. The information provided will also be made publicly available.

As explained in the USPTO’s Notice in the Federal Register, “It is increasingly clear that the completeness of the patent record, including the ownership of patent applications and patents, plays an essential role in the efficient functioning of innovation markets.”

The USPTO lists the following benefits of a more complete and transparent patent record:

  • The public would have a more comprehensive understanding of what patent rights being issued by the United States are being held and maintained by various entities.
  • The financial markets would have more complete information about the valuable assets being generated and held by companies.
  • Inventors and manufacturers would better understand the competitive environment in which they are operating, allowing them to better allocate their own research and development resources, and more efficiently obtain licenses and accurately value patent portfolios and patent estates that they may seek to acquire.
  • Accurate and up-to-date ownership information will facilitate examination of patents by the USPTO.

In effort to obtain input from the public, the Office conducted a roundtable discussion to solicit feedback from patent user groups, practitioners, industry, independent inventor organizations, academia, and government. The roundtable was held on Friday, January 11, 2013, at the USPTO headquarters in Virginia. Stay tuned for feedback from the meeting.

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