ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

USPTO Seeks Public Input on International Efforts to Harmonize Substantive Patent Laws

New York, May 11, 2007

In a recent Federal Register notice, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is seeking public input on international efforts to harmonize substantive requirements of patent laws, and any potential subsequent changes to U.S. law and practice.

The United States has been involved in harmonization efforts with various countries for many years. Recent efforts have been made to streamline this process with the aim of achieving a meaningful near-term agreement. Since 2005, a multi-nation group known as the “Group B+” (the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, the members of the European Union and the European Patent Convention) has been meeting to advance discussions on patent law harmonization in WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization) in the categories of: definition of prior art, grace period, novelty, and inventive step or non-obviousness.

An agreement on these core elements would provide a harmonized system on global applicability of these principles. Such international convergence would allow for a more uniform treatment of patent applications and patent grants, improve patent quality, and reduce costs for patent owners in obtaining and preserving their rights for inventions in many countries.

The May 3 Federal Register notice aims to identify important issues that have arisen and will likely resurface during upcoming meetings of the Group B+ and the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents.

In particular, the USPTO is interested in receiving comments regarding the following patent-related issues, which are currently treated differently under U.S. and foreign law:

  • Priority of invention
  • Prior art effective date of published U.S. patent applications
  • Scope of prior art effect of published patent applications
  • Grace period
  • Geographical limitations in the definition of prior art
  • “Loss of Right” provisions
  • “Experimental Use” exception to prior art
  • Prior user rights
  • Assignee filing of patent applications
  • Eighteen-month publication of patent applications

Interested parties may submit comments to the attention of Mr. Jon P. Santamauro by fax (571.273.0085) or e-mail ( through Friday, June 22, 2007. All submissions will be made publicly available on the USPTO website.

Further information and details on submitting comments can be found in the May 3 Federal Register notice.

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative