08.02.12

Leahy, Grassley Introduce Legislation to Implement Patent Law Treaties That Will Help U.S. Businesses Obtain Patent Protections Overseas

WASHINGTON (Thursday, August 2, 2012) – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation today to implement two patent law treaties that will help American businesses expand into foreign markets by reducing obstacles for obtaining patent protection overseas. 

“In this global economy, it is not enough to have an effective domestic patent system; we must also help American inventors and businesses to protect their inventions and thrive in markets around the world,”  said Leahy following the bill’s introduction.

The Hague Agreement Concerning International Registration of Industrial Designs allows American industrial design creators to apply for design protection in all member countries by filing a single, standardized, English-language application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  The Patent Law Treaty limits the formalities different countries can require in patent applications, removing barriers that currently burden U.S. patent holders.  The treaties, which were signed under President Clinton and submitted to the Senate by President George W. Bush, received unanimous support when the Senate voted to approve ratification in 2007.  Enactment of the legislation will allow the State Department to ratify the treaties so they can go into effect.

“American businesses and inventors will benefit from harmonized applications, reducing the cost of doing business and encouraging U.S. innovators to protect and export their products internationally,” said Leahy. “I urge the Senate to act quickly on this final step so that the treaties can be ratified and American innovators and businesses can benefit from them as U.S. products continue to thrive on the global stage.”

“The patent system needs to keep up with the 21st century, global economy,” said Grassley.  “This legislation will help facilitate protection of American inventors’ research, engineering and creativity in the international arena.”

A copy of the Senate legislation can be found online.

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Statement Of Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.),

Chairman, Committee On The Judiciary,

On Introduction of the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012
August 2, 2012

 

I am pleased to introduce today legislation that will help American businesses and inventors by reducing obstacles for obtaining patent protection overseas.  This bipartisan measure implements two patent law treaties that were signed under President Clinton and submitted for the Senate’s advice and consent by President George W. Bush.  The Senate voted to ratify the treaties in 2007 without a single Senator in dissent.  With this implementing legislation, Congress will complete its work so that the treaties at last can be ratified and go into effect.

Our patent system plays a key role in encouraging innovation and bringing new products to market.  The discoveries made by American inventors and research institutions, commercialized by our companies, and protected and promoted by our patent laws, have made our system the envy of the world.  But in this global economy, it is not enough to have an effective domestic patent system; we must also help American inventors and businesses to protect their inventions and thrive in markets around the world.  Consistent with last year’s landmark patent reform legislation, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, this legislation will benefit American inventors by implementing two measures to reduce application barriers around the world. 

The Hague Agreement Concerning International Registration of Industrial Designs provides a simplified application system for U.S. creators of industrial designs who, by filing a single standardized application for a design patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, can apply for design protection in each country that has ratified the Treaty.  American design patent applicants who previously had to file separate applications in numerous countries may now file a single, English-language application at the U.S. Patent Office, reducing the costs and burdens of obtaining international protections.  The U.S. Patent Office may also receive applications that have been filed internationally, but its substantive examination process remains unchanged.  The standard for obtaining a design patent is not affected.  By simplifying the process for American businesses to obtain design patents overseas, the Hague Agreement will reduce barriers for small and mid-size companies to expand into foreign markets.  

The Patent Law Treaty also streamlines the process for American businesses seeking patent protection overseas.  It limits the formalities different countries can require in patent applications, which are often used to disadvantage American applications in foreign jurisdictions.  American businesses and inventors will benefit from harmonized applications, reducing the cost of doing business and encouraging U.S. innovators to protect and export their products internationally.

In June, Director Kappos of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office testified before the Judiciary Committee about the important need for this implementing legislation, stating that the treaties are “pro-American innovation, pro-global innovation, pro-jobs, pro-opportunity.”  I agree.  I urge the Senate to act quickly on this final step so that the treaties can at last be ratified, and American innovators and businesses can benefit from them as U.S. products continue to thrive on the global stage.

I ask unanimous consent that the full bill text be printed in the Record.

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