The USPTO is seeking public comment on patent privilege issues, regarding the legal protections afforded to communications between patent practitioners and clients in the U.S. and foreign countries. The USPTO is hosting a roundtable to discuss these issues on February 18, 2015 at its Alexandria, Virginia campus.
According to the January 26, 2015 Federal Register Notice, the USPTO is seeking input on the following issues:
The Federal Register Notice notes that U.S. jurisdictions are inconsistent with regard to their treatment of communications with foreign patent practitioners and non-attorney U.S. patent agents, and that the privilege laws (or professional secrecy obligations) of foreign countries vary by statute and common law.
The Federal Register Notice hints that one purpose behind this information-gathering may relate to ”the possibility of developing an international minimum standard for recognizing privileged communications between clients and patent practitioners,” which has been considered “by the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).” Information on U.S. and foreign laws have been compiled in WIPO document SCP/20/9, ‘‘Confidentiality of Communications between Clients and their Patent Advisors: Compilation of Laws, Practices and other Information,’’ which you can find here. A proposed international framework for patent privilege prepared by U.S. and European organizations can be found here.
The USPTO seeks written comments (by February 25, 2015) on the following specific questions:
The USPTO asks commenters “to include information identifying … whether they are patent attorneys, agents, owners, licensees, or any other type of entity,” so the USPTO can better understand how they are impacted by patent privilege issues.
Please refer to the Federal Register Notice for detailed information on how to submit written comments or request to speak at the roundtable.