The controversial agreement (a New Zealand rally against it is shown above) has been five years in the making and has been entered into by 12 Asia-Pacific countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. If and when fully implemented, it will cover more than 40% of the global economy.
The 2,000-page agreement covers a wide range of issues including intellectual property law. Some clauses are mandatory – things signatories “must” do – and some are permissive – things signatories “may” do.
The TPP will need to be implemented by legislation in the US and elswehere. Congress is expected to vote on it in 2016.
Patent Law Provisions
TPP provisions on patent law include the following:
- Countries may make plants and animals un-patentable. (In the US, both plants and animals may be patented.)
- “Diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals” may be un-patentable. (In the US, many such methods are patentable.)
- All signatory countries will now have a one-year grace period for filing a patent application following disclosure, rather than applying the “absolute novelty” test now used by some. This will be similar to the one-year post-disclosure window used in the US.
- A patent application can be pending for no more than five years from the filing date, or three years from a request for examination, whichever is longer. In compensation for any further delay, the patent term must be extended.
- Patent applications must be published within 18 months after the filing date and both the prosecution history of published patent applications and the text of granted patents must be open to the public.
Experts are still in the process of digesting the lengthy TPP agreement. Also, the full impact of it will not be felt until the signatory countries enact the enabling legislation and this begins to affect intellectual property law.
Leech Tishman’s Intellectual Property Group is based in Pasadena, California with a team of highly-regarded legal professionals with prosecution and litigation expertise in the fields of patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.
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Photo Attribution: “Stop TPPA rally. (15550752528)” by Neil Ballantyne from Wellington, New Zealand. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.