(media inquiries only)
Maria V. Hernandez
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will begin publishing, for the first time, patent applications filed on or after November 29, 2000 eighteen months after the effective filing date of the application. Applications will be published electronically and will be available on the Internet at www.uspto.gov . Publication of patent applications before a patent is granted is one of the most fundamentally significant changes to the U.S. patent system in this century, and stems from a statutory mandate contained in the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA).
Prior to the AIPA, damages for infringement can begin accruing no earlier than the date a patent issues. Under provisions in the AIPA, inventors can obtain reasonable royalties from others who make, use, sell, or import the invention during the period between the time the patent application is published and the patent is granted. This new right may be invaluable during the formulation stage of new businesses and for independent inventors in need of investments. Filers can also request that applications be published earlier than 18 months, a procedure that offers inventors provisional rights at an earlier stage.
There are exclusions from the publication requirement, the most significant of which is for applicants who attest upon filing that they have not and will not file an application for the same invention in a foreign country or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications 18 months after filing. Most applications filed in foreign countries and under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, for example, are published 18 months after filing.
"Publishing patent applications before a patent issues offers a number of significant benefits to the patent system," said Q. Todd Dickinson, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. "It allows earlier insight into the state-of-the-art, helping organizations and inventors better pinpoint their research and development investments. It expands the library of prior art available to USPTO's examiners, ensuring that the first inventor can be readily determined earlier in the process. And, it brings us another step closer to an international patent, an important goal in today's global economy."
USPTO, a user fee-funded agency of the United States, within the Department of Commerce, administers laws relevant to granting patents and registering trademarks. The Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office advises the Secretary of Commerce and other federal departments and agencies on intellectual property policy matters. Over 6 million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790 and 2.3 million trademarks have been registered since the first in 1870. Last year USPTO issued 161,000 patents and registered 104,000 trademarks.
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