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PMA SUPPORTS CONSIDERATION OF FIRST-TO-FILE PATENT LAW IN U.S

Executive Summary

PMA SUPPORTS CONSIDERATION OF FIRST-TO-FILE PATENT LAW IN U.S. "as a part of harmonization and improvement of international patent systems," the association maintained in a June 5 letter to Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldridge. "We note that the adoption of a first-to-file system in this country will necessitate substantial revisions of U.S. patent law," PMA President Gerald Mossinghoff noted in the letter. "The legitimate interests of U.S. inventors should be protected in any revision process." The PMA letter comes in response to a proposal by Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks Donald Quigg at a March meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Patent availability, patent term, and introduction of a grace period are among the issues linked to a possible U.S. changeover to a first-to-file system, according to the Patent & Trademark Office. "Availability of product patents for all technological fields, including pharmaceuticals, is one aspect of the package referred to by the U.S. delegation in offering the possibility of a first-to-file system in this country," the letter states. The U.S. proposal includes products resulting from biotechnology as well. "A reasonable term of patent protection is also an essential element in improving patent protection standards internationally," the letter continues. "An adequate patent term is particularly critical for pharmaceuticals since a new medicine cannot be marketed until foreign government marketing approval has been obtained, which usually occurs after the patent has been issued." The Quigg proposal favors a 20-year patent term. The U.S. is one of only three nations, along with Canada and the Philippines, whose patent law recognizes the first to invent rather than the first to file. According to the PTO, Canada has already begun considering a revision of its law toward a first-to-file system.
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