In particular, he emphasised the importance of other countries adopting a grace period and the US implementing several outstanding treaties.
Noting that he has met with several heads of patent offices around the world recently, Kappos said: “During these conversations, I stressed that a key requirement in realising international harmonisation is overseas adoption of a modern grace period,” Kappos told the committee. “Grace periods have been adopted in many patent systems throughout the world and are recognised as a global best practice.”
Under the AIA, innovators have a full year to apply for a patent after they have disclosed the invention without losing the ability to obtain the patent. This is to shield them from being gamed by a first-to-file system.
Kappos also discussed two treaties – the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) and the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement) – that were ratified by the US Senate in 2007 but have yet to be implemented by Congress.
The PLT merges national and international requirements in patent applications, reducing costs of obtaining patent rights around the world. The Hague Agreement streamlines design rights for member countries. It is administered by WIPO.
“Design rights, once considered an unsophisticated way to protect intellectual property, have become valuable tools for US companies,” Kappos said. “And – as the considerable attention to the innovations of Steve Jobs has shown us – the relationship between design and function has grown closer in recent years.”