|Volume 1: No. 13|
Mark Weiser (firstname.lastname@example.org) sent me a Commerce Dept. Request for Comments on the U.S. patent law, 56 FR 22702-02. [Contact me if you need an e-mail copy.] The Advisory Commission on Patent Law Reform will be submitting recommendations by August 1992, and would like public comments by July 15, 1991. The contact for information is Jeff Kushan, Commission Specialist, (703) 557-3071. Written comments should be sent to E.R. Kazenske, Executive Assistant to the Commissioner, U.S. P.T.O., Box 15, Washington, DC 20231.
Item I is the protection of computer-related inventions, and the solicitation is broad enough that almost any input could be submitted (if keyed to the appropriate paragraphs). The Commission wants to know what problems exist, what changes should be made, how patents should relate to copyright, whether patent law should even apply to software, how patent examiners should be recruited, trained, and supported, and how improperly granted patents should be corrected.
Other issues under study are: Should there be a Federal trade-secret law? Should patent disputes be handled by arbitration? Should inequitable conduct by a patent holder render a patent unenforceable? Should legislation deal with the right to negotiate contract provisions that are contingent on the validity of a patent? Should patents be granted to the first to file instead of the first to invent (in accordance with patent laws in most other countries)? Should patent applications be made public after 18 months? Should patent protection be 20 years from the date of filing (instead of 17 from the date granted)? Should applicants have the right to defer examination at will? How should foreign filing dates be recognized? Should the current system of patent reexamination be modified? Should assignees (instead of just inventors) be allowed to file for patents? How should the Patent and Trademark Office be funded? Should small companies continue to pay less?
Note that many of these issues are bound up with inter- national negotiations, especially with the World Intellectual Property Organization's efforts to harmonize international patent proceedings.