Friday, February 14, 2014

Comment Period Now Closed on Proposed Rules for Hague Agreement Implementation

On November 29th, 2013, the USPTO published its proposed rules for implementing the Hague Agreement, inviting public comment on their proposals. On February 4th, the period for submitting comments ended. The USPTO will now consider those comments in finalizing its rules.

As discussed in an earlier post, the Hague Agreement provides a streamlined framework for applicants from member nations to obtain international coverage for design patents.

Included among the public comments received by the USPTO is a submission from the Intellectual Property Owners Association, a trade association for owners of patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.

In their comments, the IPO noted two sources of concern.

First, the proposed rules do not provide for filing a continued prosecution application (CPA) in an international design application. CPAs are an inexpensive and quick method for resolving small issues late in prosecution, without having to file a continuation application. The IPO suggests altering the rules to provide for CPAs or a functional equivalent.

Second, the IPO expressed concern that the rules do not address a fee issue that could potentially result in a delayed filing date. Under the proposed rules, fees will ultimately be paid to WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, an organization located in Geneva, Switzerland that will administer the international system. The IPO notes that fluctuations in the exchange rate could result in inadvertently minor deficiencies in the fee amounts. The IPO suggests that the USPTO should provide assurances that such a deficiency would not result in a delayed filing date, or otherwise provide against the possibility of deficiencies due to fluctuating exchange rates.

Final rules are expected from the USPTO in the coming months.

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