Summary: S.1961 — 104th Congress (1995-1996)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.1961. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (07/16/1996)


Title I: United States Intellectual Property Organization

Subtitle A: Establishment of the United States

Intellectual Property Organization

Subtitle B: Effective Date; Technical Amendments

Subtitle C: Miscellaneous Provisions

Title II: Early Publication of Patent Applications

Title III: Patent Term Restoration

Title IV: Prior Domestic Commercial Use

Title V: Patent Reexamination Reform

Title VI: Miscellaneous Patent Provisions

Omnibus Patent Act of 1996 - Title I: United States Intellectual Property Organization - United States Intellectual Property Organization Act of 1996 - Subtitle A: Establishment of the United States Intellectual Property Organization - Establishes the United States Intellectual Property Organization as a wholly owned Government corporation. Requires the Organization to maintain an office in the District of Columbia metropolitan area. Makes the Organization responsible for authorizing the transfer of up to $100,000 in any year to the State Department for special payments to international intergovernmental organizations for studies and programs to advance international cooperation concerning patents, trademarks, copyrights, and related matters. Authorizes the Organization to retain and use all of its revenues and receipts. Repeals specified Patent and Trademark Office surcharge restrictions under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990.

(Sec. 113) Vests management of the Organization in a Commissioner of Intellectual Property (Commissioner) who shall be appointed by the President.

Directs the Commissioner to take specified actions, including: (1) advising the President of all activities of the office undertaken in response to U.S. obligations under treaties and executive agreements or which relate to cooperative programs with foreign governmental authorities responsible for granting patents, registering trademarks or copyrights, or other intellectual property rights; (2) representing the United States, at the President's direction, in international negotiations on intellectual property matters; (3) maintaining a program for identifying national security positions and providing for appropriate security clearances; (4) ensuring that the United States Patent, Trademark, and Copyright offices each prepare appropriation requests, adjust fees to provide sufficient revenues to cover expenses, and expend funds derived from such fees for only the functions of such offices; and (5) appointing Commissioners of Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights, respectively.

Exempts the Organization from any administratively or statutorily imposed limitation on positions or personnel. Subjects Organization employees to provisions governing Federal employees, with exceptions.

(Sec. 114) Revises Federal provisions to establish as separate administrative units of the Organization the United States Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Offices. Provides for the establishment of Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Office Management Advisory Boards to review the policies, goals, performance, budget, and user fees of their respective Offices and a Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences within the Patent Office. Sets forth provisions regarding annual reporting requirements to the Congress by, and funding of, such Offices.

Modifies Federal provisions regarding copyright arbitration royalty panels to: (1) authorize the Commissioner to employ administrative law judges (ALJs) to conduct proceedings and make determinations for copyright royalty disputes; and (2) repeal provisions regarding membership and proceedings of such panels. Sets forth provisions regarding the conduct of proceedings by ALJs, appeals, and judicial review.

Establishes the Copyright Appeals Board within the Copyright Office.

(Sec. 117) Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) suits by and against the Organization; (2) funding of Organization activities; (3) management reports; (4) audits; and (5) transfer of functions, funds, and property.

Subtitle B: Effective Date; Technical Amendments - Makes this title effective four months after its enactment. Sets forth technical and conforming amendments to Federal intellectual property law and the Satellite Home Viewer Act.

Subtitle C: Miscellaneous Provisions - Makes existing appropriations and funds for the performance of functions, programs, and activities terminated pursuant to this title available for termination expenses.

Title II: Early Publication of Patent Applications - Patent Application Publication Act of 1996 - Requires each patent application, except applications for design patents and provisional applications, to be published as soon as possible after 18 months from the earliest filing date for which a benefit is sought, except for an application that is no longer pending or one subject to a secrecy order. Permits earlier publication at the applicant's request. Prohibits disclosure of information concerning published applications except as determined by the Commissioner. Prohibits, upon request by certain independent inventors at the time of filing, the publication of rejected applications, with exceptions, until three months after the Commissioner notifies the applicant. Requires the applicant to certify that no application was or will be filed for the invention in a foreign country.

Directs the Commissioner to establish appropriate procedures to ensure that this title does not create new opportunities for pre-issuance opposition that did not exist before its adoption.

(Sec. 203) Entitles a patent application to claim the benefit of an earlier filing date in a foreign country if a claim, identifying the original foreign application by specifying its application number, country, and the day, month, and year of its filing, is filed in the Patent Office at any such time during the pendency of the application as is required by the Commissioner.

Allows the Commissioner to: (1) consider the failure of the applicant to file a timely claim for priority as a waiver of any such claim; (2) require the payment of a surcharge as a condition of accepting an untimely claim during such pendency; and (3) require a certified copy of the original foreign application, specification, and drawings upon which it is based, a translation if not in the English language, and such other information as necessary.

Authorizes the Commissioner to determine the time period within which an amendment containing the specific reference to an earlier filed application shall be submitted.

(Sec. 204) Sets forth provisions regarding provisional rights with respect to royalties, including rights based on substantially identical inventions, time limits on obtaining a reasonable royalty, and requirements for international applications (including directing the Commissioner to require the applicant to provide a copy of such application and a translation thereof).

(Sec. 205) Revises Federal patent law to provide that a person shall not be entitled to a patent if the invention was described in a published patent application filed earlier by another person in the United States, with exceptions.

(Sec. 208) Provides that, if the day that is 12 months after the filing date of a provisional application falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the period of pendency shall be extended to the next succeeding business day.

Title III: Patent Term Restoration - Modifies Federal patent law to restore to the patent holder any part of the term that is lost because of undue administrative delay caused by specified factors, such as an unusual administrative delay by the Patent Office in issuing the patent, subject to specified limitations.

Defines "unusual administrative delay" as the failure to take specified actions, such as the failure to issue a patent within four months after the date on which the issue fee was paid and all outstanding requirements were satisfied.

Title IV: Prior Domestic Commercial Use - Prior Domestic Commercial Use Act of 1996 - Amends Federal patent law to create a defense to patent infringement with respect to any subject matter that would otherwise infringe one or more claims in the patent being asserted, if a person had, acting in good faith, commercially used the subject matter before the effective filing date of such patent.

Specifies that the sale or other disposition of the subject matter of a patent by a person entitled to assert the defense shall exhaust the patent owner's rights to the extent they would have been exhausted had such disposition been made by the patent owner.

Subjects the defense to specified limitations and qualifications regarding: (1) the scope of the defense; (2) effective and serious preparation; (3) burden of proof; (4) abandonment of use; (5) who may assert the defense; (6) a one-year limitation; (7) unsuccessful assertion of the defense; and (8) invalidity of a patent.

Title V: Patent Reexamination Reform - Patent Reexamination Reform Act of 1996 - Amends Federal patent law to expand reexamination request authority to authorize the filing of such requests by any person on the basis of patent specification requirements except for the best mode requirement. (Current law permits reexamination requests only on the basis of prior art.)

Establishes procedures for reexamination proceedings based upon third-party (persons who are not the patent owner) requests. Requires documents filed in such proceedings, other than the request, to be served on all parties. Grants third-party requesters: (1) one opportunity to file written comments not less than one month after the date of service of the patent owner's response to any Patent Office action on the merits of reexamination; and (2) the right to appeal final reexamination decisions on the same basis such right is available to patent owners.

Estops a third-party requester who files a notice of appeal or who participates as a party to an appeal from asserting at a later time the invalidity of any claim determined to be patentable on appeal on any ground which was or could have been raised during reexamination.

Prohibits: (1) patent owners and third-party requesters, once an order for reexamination has been issued, from filing a subsequent reexamination request until a reexamination certificate is published; and (2) a party, once a final decision has been entered in a civil action that the party has not sustained the burden of proving the invalidity of a patent claim, from requesting reexamination on issues that were or could have been raised in the civil action.

Requires the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences to review adverse decisions of examiners in reexamination proceedings and authorizes appeals to the Board by patent owners and third-party requesters with respect to reexamination decisions. Permits appeals of Board decisions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Title VI: Miscellaneous Patent Provisions - Revises provisions regarding abandonment of provisional applications to allow, notwithstanding the absence of a claim, a provisional application to be treated as a patent application, under specified conditions.

(Sec. 602) Grants: (1) benefits of an earlier filing date to an invention patent application filed in this country that has previously and regularly been filed for the same invention in a foreign country which affords similar privileges in the case of applications filed in a foreign WTO member country under specified conditions; and (2) applications for plant breeder's rights filed in such country or in a foreign UPOV Contracting Party the right of priority as a patent application, subject to the same conditions and requirements.

(Sec. 603) Allows a patent to be issued for a tuber propagated plant. Provides that, in the case of a plant patent, the grant to the patentee shall have the right to exclude others from offering the reproduced plant or any of its parts for sale throughout, or importing the plant so reproduced into, the United States.

(Sec. 604) Amends: (1) the Federal judicial code regarding just compensation for U.S. Government use of patents; and (2) Federal patent provisions to authorize electronic filing of patent and trademark documents.