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Archived updates for Friday, January 25, 2008

Senate Patent Reform Bill on Prior Art Grace Period

As noted in the Congressional Reserach Service ("CRS") Report on Patnet Reform,
S. 1145 would change the current grace period by causing it only to apply to patent applicants themselves. Under this proposal, “disclosures made by the inventor or a joint inventor or by others who obtained the subject matter disclosed directly or indirectly from the inventor or a joint inventor” would not be patent-defeating, provided they were made “one year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.” In contrast, disclosures qualify as prior art, and are therefore potentially patent-defeating, if they were made either by (1) the inventors and their associates more than one year before the patent application’s filing date; or (2) anyone else prior to the filing date, provided that such a disclosure occurred prior to the inventor’s own disclosure. These amendments would, in essence, protect the patent positions of individuals who disclosed their inventions up to one year before they filed a patent application. The grace period would no longer shield inventors from earlier disclosures made by unrelated individuals, however.
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