Patent Reform Bills – Grace Period A Mixed Blessing

Hal Wegner writes to summarize the “holes” in the grace period for activities by the inventor, as present in both bills. If you support these reform bills, at least be sure you know what you and your clients will be getting and what protections will vanish. I remain surprised that organizations that represent university inventors and tech transfer offices remain committed to passage of the current bills. I guess that a grace period for “printed publications” (including posters) is better than none, but what about slideshows and other primarily oral presentations given at meetings (often with brief, uninformative abstracts)? What about the oral thesis defense or grad school seminar that is legally open to the public? In other words, when does a “disclosure” by an inventor that is not a printed publication become a “public use”?Policing disclosures originating at universities is about to  get a lot more difficult.

According to Mr. Wegner, the chart shown below — and also available as a PDF — “only represents the tip of the grace period iceberg which is analyzed in more detail in a study to be released for the Fordham University School of Law Nineteenth Annual Conference,  International Intellectual Property Law & Policy, April 28-29, 2011. ”


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