USPTO Seeking Feedback on Patent Harmonization

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is seeking input on international harmonization of substantive patent law. As part of this process, the Office will hold public hearing on March 21, 2013.

World intellectual property leaders are increasingly making patent harmonization a priority. In addition its work with IP5, a collaboration of the world’s top five IP offices, the United States has also been meeting with leaders from the patent offices of Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Patent Office.

At the most recent meeting of the “Tegernsee Group” (named for the city in Germany where the first meeting was held), the members were asked to collaboratively develop a joint questionnaire to aid in the acquisition and analysis of stakeholder views across jurisdictions. The questionnaire specifically seeks information and views on four issues of particular interest to harmonization of substantive patent law:

  • The grace period;
  • Publication of applications;
  • The treatment of conflicting applications; and
  • Prior user rights.

Each patent office in the Tegernsee Group will be separately administering the joint questionnaire to its respective stakeholders. The questionnaire being administered by the USPTO can be found here: http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/patents/tegernsee_survey/index.jsp.

As with other pubic hearings, the USPTO also plans to make the public roundtable available via Webcast. Webcast information will be available on the USPTO’s Internet Web site at www.uspto.gov/ip/global/aia_harmonization.jsp before the public hearing. A transcript of the hearing along with comments from the public will also be posted online.

As this post highlights, harmonizing international patent protection is a work in progress.  Therefore, it is imperative to consult a patent attorney with proven experience in handling foreign intellectual property concerns.

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