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July 13, 1999
#99-21

Contact:
Maria V. Hernandez
Brigid Quinn
703-305-8341

Press Release, 99-21

PTO to Hold Separate Hearings on Computer Software Patents and Native American Insignia Trademarks

The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) will hold hearings designed to obtain views of the public on issues associated with the identification of prior art, particularly in the examination of software patents. The term prior art generally describes all information that can be used to show that an invention is not patentable because the technology is not new and/or the subject matter is obvious to someone having ordinary skill in the art to which the subject matter pertains. Patent examiners and applicants share the responsibility of ensuring that pertinent prior art is considered during patent examination. Software patents have been criticized for containing too few references to related nonpatent literature. The full hearing notice can be found on the agency's website at www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/notices/priorart.htm.

What: Patent and Trademark Office Hearings on Issues Related to the Identification of Prior Art

When: Wednesday, July 14, 1999, 9 a.m.

Where:

Patent Theater
2121 Crystal Drive
Park Two, Second Floor
Arlington, Virginia

PTO will also hold hearings designed to obtain views of the public on issues surrounding trademark protection for the official insignia of federally and/or state recognized Native American tribes. The full hearing notice can be found on the agency's website at www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/notices/fr990603.htm. Public Law 105-330 requires the PTO to study how official insignia of Native American tribes may better be protected under trademark law. The final study must address a variety of issues, including the impact of any changes on the international legal obligations of the United States, the definition of "official insignia'' of a federally and/or state recognized Native American tribe, and the administrative feasibility, including the cost, of changing current law or policy in light of any recommendations.

What: Patent and Trademark Office Hearings on Official Insignia of Native American Tribes

When: Thursday, July 15, 1999, 9 a.m.

Where:

Commissioner's Conference Room
2121 Crystal Drive
Crystal Park Two, Room 912
Arlington, Virginia

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