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New US law to simplify patent application process

A new law which will streamline patent applications and attempt to harmonise the US patent system with procedures abroad was passed by Congress this week.

The Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012 was passed by Congress on Wednesday and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

It incorporates provisions from two treaties ‑ the Hague Agreement Concerning International Registration of Industrial Designs and the Patent Law Treaty.

The new law aims to reduce costs and simplify the process for American inventors patenting inventions outside of the US. Instead of having to file separate industrial patent applications in multiple countries, inventors will be able to file a single application with the USPTO.

The law will also increase the design patent term by one year to 15 years from the date the design was issued and enable several inventions to be included in one international application. Additionally, it will introduce the right to claim provisional damages in the international application.

To comply with the Patent Law Treaty, the act introduces several changes aimed at harmonising the US patent system with those in other countries.

Unintentionally abandoned foreign patent applications may now be revived and, in re-examination proceedings, an unintentionally delayed response by the patent owner may now be accepted.

Applicants may also be granted extensions to file non-provisional applications in the US where a provisional application has previously been filed abroad, or an application has been filed for the same invention outside the US. Unintentionally delayed claims may also receive priority filing dates under the PCT.

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