1. Reduce redundancies and inconsistencies among national patent systems. The United States, Europe, and Japan should further harmonize patent examination procedures and standards to reduce redundancy in search and examination and eventually achieve mutual recognition of results. Differences that need reconciling include application priority (“first-to-invent” versus “first-inventor-to-file”), the grace period for filing an application after publication, the “best mode” requirement of U.S. law, and the U.S. exception to the rule of publication of patent applications after 18 months. This objective should continue to be pursued on a trilateral or even bilateral basis if multilateral negotiations are not progressing.

In making these recommendations the committee is mindful that although the patent law is general, its effects vary across technologies, industries, and classes of inventors. There is a tendency in discourse on the patent system to identify problems and solutions to them from the perspective of one field, sector, or class. Although the committee did not attempt to deal with the specifics of every affected field, the diversity of our membership enabled it to consider each of the proposed changes from the perspective of very different sectors. Similarly, in our deliberations we examined closely the claims made to us that one class of American inventors—individuals and very small businesses—would be disadvantaged by certain changes in the patent system. Some of our recommendations—universal publication of applications, Open Review, and shifting to a first-inventor-to-file system—have in the past been vigorously opposed on those grounds. We conclude that the evidence for such claims is wanting and believe that our recommendations, on balance, would be as beneficial to small entities as to the economy at large.

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