Chapter 4Intellectual Property Rights: Current Developments

Possible Changes in the Us Patent Regime

Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the American Declaration of Independence, examined his nation's first patent in 1790. Today the US has patented some 6.5 million inventions. At any one point in time there are currently some seven million applications underway, reflecting today's knowledge explosion. Proposals aimed at liberalizing US patent law have proved controversial: US law presently allows an inventor to keep a patent application secret for as long as it takes the Patent and Trade Mark Office to issue or deny a patent. This period is supposed to average two years but in practice it averages four years and, for a very complex technology, five ...

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