CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 3486, the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The bill was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on August 2, 2012, and referred to the Committee on Judiciary. The bill was approved in the Senate on September 24, 2012 by unanimous consent.
The bill would implement two patent law treaties: (1) The Hague Agreement Concerning International Registration of Industrial Designs (“Hague Agreement”) and (2) The Patent Law Treaty (“PLT”). Both treaties were ratified by the Senate without opposition in 2007. Both treaties would simplify the formal obligations and reduce costs for American inventors when seeking patent protection outside the United States.
The Hague System
The Hague System regarding industrial design was created to streamline procedures for registering such a design and obtaining protection for it. Under the agreement, an individual can apply for protection in all participating countries using a single application. In order to be eligible an applicant must be a national of a participating country; be domiciled in a member country; have an industrial or commercial establishment in a participating country; or, in cases where the country adhered to the 1999 Geneva Act, the applicant is eligible if they have a habitual residence. The treaty also applies to intergovernmental organizations, such as the European Union. This allows those applicants to use the Hague system even if their country of residence is not a signatory.
Applications for design protection are reviewed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). If approved a design registration is valid for a period of five-years and can be renewed for additional five-year periods up to the maximum duration permitted in participating countries. Applicants are responsible for paying a variety of registration fees set by WIPO, as well as designation fees set by the country in which they file their application.
Patent Law Treaty
The Patent Law Treaty was designed to limit the number of formalities that a country can impose on a foreign patent application and unify the application processes through which applicants can obtain patents internationally. The treaty contains provisions relating to harmonizing patent applications and examination procedures, standards for obtaining a patent, and what rights and remedies are available under a patent.
A CBO score of S. 3486 was not available as of press time.