Tegernsee Experts Group
At a meeting convened in Tegernsee, Germany, in July 2011, leaders and representatives from the patent offices of Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as from the European Patent Office (the “Tegernsee Group”) launched a new dialogue on the state of affairs concerning international harmonization of substantive patent law. Since that initial meeting, the Tegernsee Group has met several times to consider work done by patent experts from each office analyzing comparative aspects of each jurisdiction's patent law and practice. Over the past year, the Tegernsee Group has focused its work on four issues of particular interest: grace period; publication of applications; treatment of conflicting applications; and prior use rights. Copies of the studies and further information may be found at http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/aia_harmonization.jsp or http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2012/20121108a.html.
Most recently, on October 4, 2012, the leaders of the Tegernsee Group Offices met in Geneva, Switzerland to review the results of the studies on these four issues. In reviewing the studies and contemplating the future of international harmonization, it was agreed that the next step in the process would be to solicit stakeholder views. To this end, experts from the Tegernsee Group offices collaboratively developed a joint harmonization questionnaire to aid in the acquisition and analysis of stakeholder views across jurisdictions on the particular issues mentioned above. The Tegernsee Group Offices separately administered the joint questionnaire to their respective stakeholders. The results of the questionnaire as administered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office are available online.
In addition, the USTPO hosted a Public Hearing on the International Harmonization of Substantive Patent Law Harmonization on March 21, 2013. During this roundtable discussion, representatives from various stakeholder groups provided their opinions on the four issues mentioned above. Relevant comments from their testimony have been included, where appropriate, in each section of the report.