Patent Law Updates | New Proposed Legislation
October 9, 2012
Senate Approves Legislation to Implement Patent Law Treaties
Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act
S.3486, H.R. 6432, 9/25/2012
The Senate has approved by unanimous consent legislation to implement a pair of patent law treaties that will help American businesses expand into foreign markets by reducing obstacles for obtaining patent protection overseas.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member, introduced bipartisan implementing legislation for the treaties last month, and there is a companion bill in the House.
The legislation was approved by a voice vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“With the Judiciary Committee’s unanimous approval today, I urge the Senate to act quickly on this final step so that the treaties can be ratified and American innovators and businesses can benefit from them as U.S. products continue to thrive on the global stage,” Leahy said.
The Hague Agreement Concerning International Registration of Industrial Designs allows American industrial design creators to apply for design protection in all member countries by filing a single, standardized, English-language application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Patent Law Treaty limits the formalities different countries can require in patent applications, removing barriers that currently burden U.S. patent holders. The treaties, which were signed under President Clinton and submitted to the Senate by President George W. Bush, received unanimous support when the Senate voted to approve ratification in 2007. Enactment of the implementing legislation reported allows the State Department to ratify the treaties so they can go into effect.
This bill passed in the Senate on September 22, 2012 after its approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee a few days earlier, and is now pending at the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.
According to the Library of Congress, the bill has the following key features:
- Amends federal patent law to implement the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs and the Patent Law Treaty. (Both treaties were ratified by the Senate on December 7, 2007.)
- Allows 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, to file an international design application for international registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) (thereby enabling U.S. applicants to file a single application with USPTO instead of separate applications in multiple countries).
- Directs the USPTO to transmit international fees and forward international design applications to the international intergovernmental coordinating body.
- Requires an international design application on an industrial design made in the United States to constitute the filing of an application in a foreign country if such application is filed: (1) in a country other than the United States, (2) at the international intergovernmental coordinating body recognized under the Hague Agreement, or (3) with an intergovernmental organization.
- Sets forth the priorities of national and prior foreign and national applications.
- Standardizes application procedures to be consistent with other member countries.
- Extends the term for design patents from 14 to 15 years from the date of grant.
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