AIA Blog
AIA Blog
Wednesday Oct 19, 2011

Overview of International Patent Protection for Small Business Study

From: Dr. Stuart Graham, USPTO Chief Economist and International Patent Protection Study Leader

American businesses are known around the world for ingenuity and innovation.  Many of the technologies that define our modern world – the smart phones we use to communicate, the cardiac stents that prolong lives, and the genetic tests that uncover diseases – were developed by American companies.  We invent new products, new industries, and new ways of doing business.

These innovations often come from entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Understanding the importance of their new technologies, many of them seek to protect their inventions with U.S. patents.  However, in the global economy, today’s regional supplier can quickly become tomorrow’s international market leader.  Protection for intellectual property assets overseas is now more critical than ever as more and more U.S. companies seek to fuel their growth with exports and increase their global footprint so as to become the international powerhouses of tomorrow.

Obtaining patents overseas is a complex and expensive process.  Applicants often must contend with dozens of legal systems, each with its own requirements, languages, levels of protection, and application fees.  Navigating this maze of regulations can strain the resources of small companies, who may forego international protection entirely as a result.

To address these issues, Congress has directed the USPTO to conduct a study on international patent protection for small businesses.  Working with the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration, the USPTO will determine how the Federal government can best help small businesses obtain patent protection overseas.  Part of the study will evaluate whether the Federal Government should establish a grant or loan program to defray the costs of international patent protection.  In January, the USPTO will present its report to Congress on the findings of this study.

As the PTO leader of the International Patent Protection for Small Businesses Study, I encourage you to contribute by giving testimony in our public hearings and/or by submitting written comments to the agency.  Our public hearings scheduled as follows, and written comments will be accepted until November 8, 2011:

  • Thursday, October 27, 2011 @ 1 to 4 pm, Madison Auditorium, Alexandria, VA
  • Tuesday, November 1, 2011 @ 9 am to noon, University of Southern California Gould School of Law

To learn more about the international patent protection for small business study and ways to contribute, please visit the USPTO website at

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