President Obama Signs Patent Law Treaty Legislation

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President Obama recently signed the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act (the Act). It amends federal patent law to implement the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Treaty) and the Patent Law Treaty. It will take effect one year from the date of enactment.

Under the Hague Treaty, any person who is a U.S. national, or has a domicile, habitual residence, or real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in the United States, can file an international design application for international registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is good news for design patent applicants because it will allow them to file a single application with USPTO instead of separate applications in multiple countries, thereby reducing the time and expense. The Hague Treaty will also increase the term of design patents from fourteen years to fifteen years from grant.

The Patent Law Treaty aims to harmonize and streamline formal procedures for patent applications and patents among signatory countries. Thus, the Act revises U.S. patent application procedures with respect to filing dates, fees, and surcharges for fees, oaths, or declarations and claims submitted after the filing date to bring them in line with international norms.

The most significant change for U.S. applicants is that utility application will now be given a filing date even when submitted without claims. The Act also authorizes the USPTO to establish procedures to revive an unintentionally abandoned patent application and accept an unintentionally delayed claim for priority.

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