In a recent notice, the PTO has indicated that it may be illegal to outsource invention information to a foreign county for the purposes preparing a US patent application.
- A foreign filing license from the USPTO does not authorize the exporting of subject matter abroad for the preparation of patent applications to be filed in the United States.
- Applicants who are considering exporting subject matter abroad for the preparation of patent applications to be filed in the United States should contact the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) at the Department of Commerce for the appropriate clearances.
The full notice reads as follows:
The USPTO has become aware that a number of law firms or service provider companies located in foreign countries are sending solicitations to U.S. registered patent practitioners offering their services in connection with the preparation of patent applications to be filed in the United States. Applicants and registered patent practitioners are reminded that the export of subject matter abroad pursuant to a license from the USPTO, such as a foreign filing license, is limited to purposes related to the filing of foreign patent applications. Applicants who are considering exporting subject matter abroad for the preparation of patent applications to be filed in the United States should contact the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) at the Department of Commerce for the appropriate clearances. See MPEP Sec. 140 (8th ed., Rev. 5, Aug. 2006). The BIS has promulgated the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) governing exports of dual-use commodities, software, and technology, including technical data, which are codified at 15 CFR Parts 730-774. Furthermore, if the invention was made in the United States, technical data in the form of a patent application, or in any form, can only be exported for purposes related to the preparation, filing or possible filing and prosecution of a foreign patent application, after compliance with the EAR or following the appropriate USPTO foreign filing license procedure. See 37 CFR 5.11(c). A foreign filing license from the USPTO does not authorize the exporting of subject matter abroad for the preparation of patent applications to be filed in the United States.
The Commissioner for Patents has been delegated the authority for controlling exports of technology for purposes of the filing of patent applications in foreign countries. See 15 CFR 734.3(b)(1)(v) and 734.10(b) and 35 U.S.C. 184. The USPTO grants foreign filing licenses in accordance with USPTO regulations. See 37 CFR Part 5. The scope of a foreign filing license granted by the USPTO is set forth in 37 CFR 5.15. Applicants and registered patent practitioners are also advised that foreign filing licenses (for the filing of a patent application in a foreign country) do not authorize the export of any technology that is not specifically submitted to the USPTO as part of a U.S. patent application or a petition for a foreign filing license. For example, the USPTO has received short abstracts, PowerPoint[supreg] slides and even titles of inventions as the disclosure for which a foreign filing license is requested. Although the USPTO will usually process such requests, any foreign filing license granted under 37 CFR 5.15(a) or 5.15(b) on such short description may not authorize filing abroad the ultimate resulting patent applications and may not authorize any additional material added after the initial foreign filing license request. Such additional material that was not submitted to the USPTO for its review may be deemed to have altered ``the general nature of the invention in a manner which would require such application to be made available for inspection under such section 181.' See 35 U.S.C. 184.
The USPTO has established a Licensing and Review Web page on its Web site that includes frequently asked questions regarding foreign filing licenses and related matters. This Web page is located at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/dapp/opla/lr/licensing_review.htm. [DDC NOTE: This web address is apparently not working]
This notice does not change existing law or regulations. Thus, while the notice is effective on July 23, 2008, this notice does not excuse or otherwise affect the legal consequence of a failure to comply with existing law or regulations that occurred prior to July 23, 2008.
Information regarding the EAR may be obtained from the BIS Web site at http://www.bis.doc.gov. Questions regarding the EAR should be directed to the BIS's Outreach and Educational Services Division at (202) 482-4811.
Dated: July 16, 2008.
Jon W. Dudas,
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. E8-16830 Filed 7-22-08; 8:45 am]
- Has anyone drafted a legal analysis of this issue that they would be willing to share? email@example.com.