MVS Filewrapper® Blog: USPTO Proposes Rule Changes for International Design Applications

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is seeking comments on it proposed rules for implementing the provisions of Title I of the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012.  The law is the implementing legislation for the 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (“the Hague Agreement”).  The rules proposed rule changes under the law will allow applicants to file a single international design application; U.S. applicants will be able to file a single application, potentially seeking protection of an industrial design in more than 40 territories.

Under the proposed rules, international design applications could be filed by U.S. applicants in the USPTO as an office of indirect filing, meaning that the USPTO would transmit the international design application to the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”).  The International Bureau would review the application for compliance with the applicable formal requirements under the Hague Agreement. Where these requirements have been met, the International Bureau would register the industrial design in the International Register and, subsequently, publish the international registration and send a copy of the publication to each designated office. Since international registration would only occur after the International Bureau finds that the application conforms to the applicable formal requirements, examination before the Office would generally be limited to substantive matters.

According to the USPTO proposal, the “major changes to U.S. practice in title I of the PLTIA pertain to: (1) Standardizing formal requirements for international design applications; (2) establishing the USPTO as an office through which international design applications may be filed; (3) providing a right of priority with respect to international design applications; (4) treating an international design application that designates the United States as having the same effect from its filing date as that of a national design application; (5) providing provisional rights for published international design applications that designate the United States; (6) setting the patent term for design patents issuing from both national design applications under chapter 16 and international design applications designating the United States to 15 years from the date of patent grant; (7) providing for examination by the Office of international design applications that designate the United States; and (8) permitting an applicant's failure to act within prescribed time limits in an international design application to be excused as to the United States under certain conditions.”

Additional information, including the specific proposed rules and information on how to submit comments, is available here.

Failure to disclose patents to SSO results in unenforceabilty against products using standard

In a recent decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part a district court decision that a patentee had breached a duty to disclose relevant video-compression technology patents while participating in a joint video team standards-setting organization (SSO).  The Federal Circuit, however, reversed in part the district court decision finding the patents unenforceable against the world, instead holding the patents should only be held unenforceable against products embodying the applicable video standard.

The court affirmed the district court's finding that the case was exceptional and awarding attorney fees to the defendant.  The plaintiff had concealed the existence of tens of thousands of relevant documents throughout discovery, with their existence not revealed until near the end of trial (we previously blogged about the district court's decision awarding fees here).  The Federal Circuit held this litigation misconduct was sufficient to support the exceptional case finding even absent the failure to disclose the patents to the SSO.

More on Qualcomm Inc. v. Broadcom Corp. after the jump.

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