Hearings Announced on Small Biz Patent Protection

October 18, 2011

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently published two public notices regarding issues of potential concern to the small-business community. The notices announced three upcoming hearings and two requests for comment on the issues of prior user rights and international patent protection for small firms. All three hearings will be available for viewing via webcast here.

The first hearing will take place on Oct. 25, 2011 at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. This hearing will focus on prior user rights, specifically: (1) comparisons between U.S. patent laws and other industrialized countries; (2) the effect of prior user rights on innovation rates; (3) the correlation between prior user rights and start-up enterprises (4) the effect of prior user rights on small businesses, universities, and individual inventors; (5) legal and constitutional issues with placing trade secret law in patent law; and (6) whether or not the change to a first-to-file patent system creates any particular need for prior user rights.

The second set of hearings will occur on Oct. 27 and Nov. 1. at the USPTO in Alexandria and the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. These hearings will focus on international patent protection for small businesses.

Comments regarding “Prior User Rights” should be sent via email to: IP.Policy@uspto.gov — with the subject line: “Prior User Rights.” Although the USPTO prefers to receive comments via email, they also are accepting those submitted by post. Written comment may be sent to: Mail Stop OPEA, P.O. Box1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450, ATTN: Elizabeth Shaw.

Comments regarding “International Patent Protection for Small Businesses” should be sent via email to:SMEpatenting@uspto.gov — with the subject line: “International Patent Protection for Small Businesses.” Written comment may be sent to: Saurabh Vishnubhakat, Attorney Advisor, Office of Chief Economist, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Mail Stop External Affairs, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450.

The deadline for all written comments is Nov. 8, 2011.

The public notices are available at: www.regulations.gov .