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Archived updates for Thursday, April 06, 2006

USPTO Proposes End to Disclosure Document Program

On April 6, 2006, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in order to eliminate the Disclosure Document Program. Written comments are due on or before May 8, 2006. No public hearing will be held.

The Disclosure Document Program was implemented in 1969 in order to allow evidence of conception of an invention to be recorded by the USPTO. According to the Notice, few, if any, inventors obtain any actual benefit from a disclosure document, and some inventors who use the Disclosure Document Program believe that they are actually filing an application for a patent. In addition, a provisional application for patent affords better benefits and protection to inventors than a disclosure document.

The Office published a notice in September of 1998 seeking input from the general public on whether the Office should eliminate the Disclosure Document Program. Although the Office received a number of comments supporting the elimination of the Program, it did not receive any input from the independent inventor community and, therefore, decided to delay its elimination.

The Office has determined that it is now appropriate to propose elimination of the Disclosure Document Program because, independent inventors have become more familiar with and are filing more provisional applications than they were in 1998, and provisional applications provide more protections for independent inventors than disclosure documents.
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