USPTO IP Policy Development and International Patent Harmonization

On Monday, the USPTO’s Office of Policy and External Affairs (OPEA) Administrator, Al Tramposch, wrote a guest blog article on David Kappos’ Public Blog.  He provided a nice overview of the OPEA and highlighted two of their key functions:


1. Developing policy and overseeing international and government affairs:

“… In the international theater, our staff represents the U.S. government in a broad range of IP negotiations with foreign governments, such as in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Just last week, I served as chairman of the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents, which achieved a full consensus to move forward with discussions on five important topics of international patent law. With the assistance of personnel throughout the agency, we also maintain a cooperative dialogue with other IP offices around the world.  This is important work.  Our “Trilateral” partners, the European Patent Office and the Japan Patent Office, and the other “IP5” offices, China and Korea, together account for over 75 percent of the world’s patent filings and grants.  Over the years, we have established several work sharing arrangements with patent offices of other countries, such as the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) in which USPTO examiners utilize the search and examination results of other offices.  Most recently, Director Kappos has re-initiated discussions on substantive patent harmonization, talks which were begun over 25 years ago but which have languished over the past few years.”


2. Providing technical assistance to members of Congress and their staff on proposed legislation:

“OPEA’s Office of Governmental Affairs is responsible for providing technical assistance to members of Congress and their staff on proposed legislation.  I am sure you are aware that Congress is working on legislation to amend the Patent Act, and that the economy has had a significant impact on the federal budget, including that of the USPTO.  You may not know that our Office of Government Affairs has been working with Congress to help draft effective patent reform legislation and to resolve difficult budgetary issues that the agency currently faces.”

With the House’s floor vote on the reform bill looming (as early as June), it is critical the OPEA provide legislative support to further David Kappos’ mission to drive down costs, and improve USPTO operations and efficiencies for the benefit of all US IP owners.  We wish Mr. Tramposch and the OPEA staff the best of luck!


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