BAB Seeks Support for the Introduction of an Internationally Harmonized Grace Period for Patent Applications
On 9 July 2012, BritishAmerican Business, the leading transatlantic business organization, submitted a letter to the UK’s Intellectual Property Minister and the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, seeking their support for the introduction in Europe of an internationally harmonized grace period for patent applications.
In the letter, we argued that the introduction of a 12-month grace period would make the global patent system simpler, more certain and more user-friendly for our member companies, many of whom depend on patent protections and use patent systems around the world.
A 12-month grace period in Europe would allow inventors and their affiliates to share certain information to attract investors, collaborators, employees and potential customers without concern that doing so would prevent them from obtaining a patent or enable a competitor to obtain the patent instead.
In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which represent over 99% of all European businesses, would benefit greatly from a 12-month grace period. The measure would make Europe’s patent regimes more user-friendly for SMEs, acting as a safety net to ensure that dissemination of their own research results to raise capital would not act as bar to obtaining patent protection.
More broadly, a grace period would serve to promote innovation in Europe. Providing academics and researchers with a grace period could encourage the open communication of scientific research and make the sharing of knowledge with potential collaborators and the public easier and faster. This enhanced sharing would encourage follow-on R&D, which spurs market growth and job creation.
Finally, greater harmonisation between European and US law would offer additional advantages such as reducing the transactional costs faced by our member companies of dealing with divergent regimes.
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