International Patent Protection for Small Businesses
Section 31 of the America Invents Act required the Director, along with the Secretary of Commerce and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, to conduct a study to determine what measures can be taken to help small businesses with international patent protection.
The report addressed the question of whether a revolving fund loan program or a grant program would best support small businesses in defraying the costs of filing, maintaining, and enforcing international patents.
Since foreign patent offices generally do not offer discounts for small businesses and international patenting often occurs early in the life of such companies (when funding is limited), small businesses are finding it difficult to protect their ideas.
Many countries subsidize patenting by their citizens, but public comments reflect skepticism regarding the United States adopting this approach. Along with this, there was no public agreement as to whether a revolving loan program or grant program should be instituted.
The study showed that small businesses would benefit from international patenting, but most of those businesses are unaware of their need to protect their rights or do not know how to go about pursuing international patenting in a cost effective manner. The report suggests implementing programs aimed at the education of small businesses regarding intellectual property. Expansion of one existing program, the USPTO’s Intellectual Property Awareness Campaign, may accomplish this objective.
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This report was submitted to Congress in January 2012.