Intellectual Property: Enhancements Needed in Computing and Reporting Patent Examination Statistics.
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL A FFAIRS DIV
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On February 26, 1996, the General Accounting Office GAO was asked to provide information on issues related to the operations of the Department of Commerces Patent and Trademark Office PTO. Specifically, GAO was asked to 1 analyze patent pendency - the amount of time that PTO spends in examining an application to determine whether an invention should receive a patent 2 compare PTOs resources committed to the patent process, the trademark process, the dissemination of information, and executive direction and administration and 3 compare PTOS workload and examination processes with those of other industrialized countries. Public Law 103-465, enacted December 8, 1994, changed the term for most patents granted by the United States from 17 years from the date of issuance to 20 years from the date of the earliest filing of an application. This change, which applies to new applications filed after June 7, 1995, raised concerns about patent pendency. Because an invention generally is not considered marketable until a patent is issued, the time frame for issuance reduces the effective term of the patent left to the inventor under new law. These new concerns regarding patent pendency have in turr raised questions regarding how PTO commits resources to the patent examination process as well as how patent examinations in the United States compare with those in other countries.
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