USPTO moving to improve collection of patent assignment data

In a positive move for analysts and patent owners alike, the USPTO is considering developing a more complete record of assigned patents and applications.

A more complete patent assignment record would produce a number of benefits:

-The public would have a more comprehensive view of what U.S. patent rights are being held and maintained by various entities. 

-The financial markets would have more complete information about the IP assets being generated and held by companies.

-Inventors and employers could better research the competitive environment in which they are operating, allowing them to better allocate their own research and development resources, more efficiently negotiate licenses and more accurately value patent portfolios.

Here’s what the Patent Office is suggesting:

(1) Require that any assignee or assignees be disclosed at the time of application filing;

(2) Require that the application issue in the name of the assignee or assignees as of the date of payment of the issue fee;

(3) Require the identification of assignment changes after filing date for inclusion on the patent application publication(PGPub);

(4) Require timely identification of any new ownership rights that cause the application or issued patent to gain or lose entitlement to small entity status; and

(5) Provide for discounted maintenance fees in return for verification or update of assignee information either when a maintenance fee is paid or within a limited time period from the date of maintenance fee payment.

A key part of due diligence is establishing IP ownership. USPTO is soliciting comments by January 23, 2012. You can read the full Federal Register announcement here.