Obama Signs Legislation to Implement Hague Agreement, Patent Law Treaty

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President Barack Obama signed into law Dec. 18 the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, S. 3486, amending the Patent Act to implement two treaties: the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, and the Patent Law Treaty.The treaties were originally signed by President Clinton in 1992, and the Senate ratified both treaties in 2007. S. 3486 is the implementation legislation necessary for the United States to become a member of the treaties.

The Patent Law Treaty limits and synchronizes patent application filing formalities among signatory countries. Under the Hague system, U.S. applicants can apply for design patent protection in all member countries by filing a single application at the Patent and Trademark Office.

The Congressional Budget Office issued a cost estimate Oct. 15 (85 PTCJ 66, 11/16/12). According to the CBO, the legislation “would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”

The CBO also stated that an anticipated increase in international applications for design patents would not significantly increase the PTO's work load. And, to the extent that there might be some more costs, the PTO is now authorized, since passage of the America Invents Act, to adjust fee schedules in order to account for them.

The Senate approved the legislation Sept. 22 (84 PTCJ 902, 9/28/12) and the House Dec. 5 (85 PTCJ 165, 12/7/12).

The bill was passed by both houses without controversy.

By Tony Dutra

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