SPECIAL SUMMARY REPORT
THE GREAT DEBATE
FIRST-TO-INVENT vs. FIRST-TO-FILE
INTERNATIONAL HARMONIZATION TREATY
Distribution, Use of
#5 / #6 / #7 / #8
#9 / #10 / #11 / #12 #13 / #14 / #15
Arguments & Rebuttals
Closing Comments &
For several years, regular informal meetings have taken place in Europe to negotiate a treaty to harmonize the patent laws of the United States, Europe, and Japan which would require these countries to conform and reform their patent laws on a number of fundamental points. These meetings have been sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized U.S. agency located in Geneva, Switzerland, whose membership consists of multinational companies and international law firms.
The U.S. goal is to gain significant improvements in the patent laws of its major trading partners, especially the patent laws of Japan. Many multi-national companies that seek globalization therefore support "Harmonization" of international patent laws, which will make foreign countries' patent practices less obstructive to U.S. applicants.
However, in exchange for these improvements, the Japanese and the Europeans insist that the U.S gives up its traditional 200-year-old "First-to-Invent" method of awarding patents and adopt their "First-to-File" system.
The first official session of a diplomatic conference was held by WIPO in the Hague, Netherlands in Europe in June 1991, but no decisions were made primarily because the United States was not yet in a position to agree to change its system to "First-to-File". At this conference, U.S. Patent Commissioner Harry Manbeck Jr. stated, "what now faces the United States negotiators...is the task of convincing our various interest groups and the U.S. Congress that the present package is still of overall benefit to U.S. interests. This will be difficult to do because the text that has evolved during this first session of the Diplomatic Conference presents a shift away from U.S. interests."
No date has been set for a second official session of the diplomatic conference to sign a Harmonization Treaty, however, due to current progress in the United States towards a change to "First-to-File", a probable successful outcome of a Harmonization Treaty is projected as early as mid to late 1992.[ Back to top ]