Congress has passed a bill that would implement two patent law treaties to help American businesses expand into foreign markets, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced today.
The House on Wednesday passed The Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, co-authored by Leahy and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill will die if the White House does not sign it before the end of the year.
The Hague Agreement Concerning International Registration of Industrial Designs allows American creators to apply for design protection in all member countries by filing a single, standardized application, Leahy's office said in a release. The Patent Law Treaty limits the formalities different countries can require in patent applications, removing barriers that currently burden U.S. patent holders.
Hal Wegner, a Foley & Lardner partner in Washington who focuses on domestic and international patent issues, said the patent law treaty will have essentially zero impact on his practice, while the Hague Agreement will increase the term of design patents from fourteen years from grant to fifteen years from grant. "It's a very minor piece of legislation overall," he said.
Patent law attorneys are paying closer attention to a House bill that would alter some provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. The House is scheduled to take up that bill, first introduced November 30, the week of December 17.