Issue 39 | November 18, 2002
USPTO Requests Small Businesses'
Comments´┐Żon Foreign Patent Protection
 In the October 28, 2002 issue of the Federal Register, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the scheduling of three roundtable meetings (December 2, 2002, in the greater Los Angeles, California area; December 4, 2002, in the greater Chicago, Illinois area; and December 19, 2002, in the greater Washington, DC area) at which small businesses, experts in global patent issues and other interested parties can comment on issues relating to patent law harmonization with foreign patent systems.

Congressional committees were concerned that small businesses were not obtaining patent protection overseas, and thus, were losing potential sales in foreign markets. The General Accounting Office analyzed and prepared a report concerning (1) whether small businesses face impediments in obtaining foreign patent protection; (2) what impact any impediments have on their foreign patent decisions; and (3) whether any Federal actions could help small businesses overcome impediments in obtaining foreign patents.

According to the report, foreign patent costs are the most significant impediment that small businesses face in trying to protect their inventions abroad. The report also identifies other impediments including (i) companies' limited foreign patent knowledge; (ii) differences among foreign patent systems; and (iii) the existence of challenging business climates and weak patent enforcement in certain countries.

In lieu of attending the roundtable meetings, written comments may be submitted. These comments must be received by the USPTO by December 19, 2002, to ensure consideration, so that the USPTO can provide a synopsis of the proceedings to the Congressional requestors by March 31, 2002. The USPTO requests that interested parties submit such comments and/or recommendations prioritized as follows: (1) Cost and fee related issues; (2) Procedural and administrative issues; (3) Substantive patent law issues; (4) Enforcement issues; and (5) Miscellaneous issues.

For more information, including USPTO contact information, please see Request for Comments and Notice of Roundtable Meetings Regarding Small Business Views on Additional Patent Law Harmonization.

Julian F. Santos is an Intellectual Property Attorney practicing at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, and can be reached at santos@mbhb.com. The information contained in this email is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.