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Archived updates for Friday, May 04, 2007

USPTO Seeks Comments on Harmonization

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking comments to obtain the views of the public on international efforts to harmonize substantive requirements of
patent laws, and any potential subsequent changes to United States law and practice. Comments may be offered on any aspect of these efforts and will be accepted on a continuous basis until June 22, 2007.

The purpose of the notice is to identify and briefly outline issues that have arisen and are likely to arise during meetings of the ‘‘Group B+’’ and the Standing Committee on the Law of
Patents (SCP), meeting under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

According to the notice "consensus has not been reached on a particular work plan" in the WIPO body. Since early 2005, a group of countries, sometimes referred to as the ‘‘Alexandria Process’’ or the ‘‘Group B+,’’ began meeting informally to advance discussions on patent law harmonization in WIPO in the categories of: (1) Definition of prior art, (2) grace period, (3) novelty, and (4) inventive step or non-obviousness. Each of these items relates to applicability of ‘‘prior art.’’ These four categories are commonly referred to as the ‘‘limited package’’ and are the core elements in patent examination in countries around the world. The ‘‘B+’’ countries include the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, the Members of the European Union and the Members of the European Patent Convention.

Issues specifically identified for consideration include
  1. Priority of Invention.
  2. Prior Art Effective Date of Published U.S. Patent Applications.
  3. Scope of Prior Art Effect of Published Patent Applications.
  4. Grace Period.
  5. Geographical Limitations in the Definition of Prior Art.
  6. ‘‘Loss of Right’’ Provisions.
  7. ‘‘Experimental Use’’ Exception to Prior Art.
  8. Prior User Rights.
  9. Assignee Filing.
  10. Eighteen-Month Publication of Patent Applications.
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