[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 115 (Monday, June 16, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Page 34291]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-14044]



[[Page 34291]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

United States Patent and Trademark Office

[Docket No. PTO-P-2014-0032]


Request for Comments on Virtual Marking

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

ACTION: Request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is 
seeking public comment on virtual marking, which was provided for by 
the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) as an alternative to 
physically marking patented articles as a means to provide notice to 
the public that such articles are subject to patent protection.
    The AIA requires that the Director of the USPTO prepare, not later 
than three years from the date of enactment of the AIA, a report of: 
The effectiveness of virtual marking as an alternative to the physical 
marking of articles; whether such virtual marking has limited or 
improved the ability of the general public to access information about 
patents; and any legal issues or deficiencies that arise from such 
virtual marking.

DATES: To be assured of consideration, written comments must be 
received on or before July 16, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent by email to 
virtualmarking@uspto.gov. Comments also may be submitted by postal mail 
addressed to: Mail Stop OPIA, United States Patent and Trademark 
Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450, ATTN: Soma Saha. 
Although comments may be submitted by postal mail, the USPTO prefers to 
receive comments via email.
    Comments will be made publicly available after the comment period 
via the USPTO Internet Web site (address: http://www.uspto.gov). As 
such, information that is not desired to be made public, such as an 
address or telephone number, should not be included in the comments. 
The USPTO does not intend to respond to individual comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Soma Saha or Marina Lamm at the Office 
of Policy and International Affairs, by telephone at (571) 272-9300, by 
email at virtualmarking@uspto.gov, or by postal mail addressed to: Mail 
Stop OPIA, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, 
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450, ATTN: Soma Saha.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: United States patent law provides that 
marking a product with a patent number gives the public notice of a 
patent. Under 35 U.S.C. 287(a), if a patented product is not marked 
with the patent number by the patent owner, damages for infringement 
will be limited to the time period after the patent owner gives actual 
notice to an alleged infringer.
    Section 16 of the AIA provides a new way to comply with the 
requirements for patent marking by allowing patentees to mark their 
products virtually rather than physically. Instead of printing the 
actual patent number on the product, businesses can display the term 
``patent'' or ``pat.'' along with an accompanying URL address of a Web 
site where the actual patent number will be located.
    Section 16 of the AIA also requires the Director of the USPTO to 
prepare a report for Congress analyzing:
    (A) The effectiveness of ``virtual marking'' as an alternative to 
the physical marking of articles;
    (B) whether such virtual marking has limited or improved the 
ability of the general public to access information about patents;
    (C) the legal issues, if any, that arise from such virtual marking; 
and
    (D) the deficiencies, if any, of such virtual marking.
    The report is due to Congress not later than three years after the 
date of enactment of the AIA, which is September 16, 2014.
    Interested members of the public are invited to submit written 
comments they deem relevant to the above-mentioned issues. The USPTO 
would particularly welcome observations and comments on any of the 
following topics:
    1. Experiences with creating and maintaining adequate and effective 
virtual marking Web sites;
    2. effectiveness of virtual marking, including experiences using 
virtual marking Web sites to locate relevant patent information;
    3. challenges presented by virtual marking in providing sufficient 
notice to the public, including sufficiently associating patent numbers 
with the corresponding product within the virtual marking Web site;
    4. economic impacts of virtual marking, including costs differences 
between physical marking and virtual marking;
    5. advantages and disadvantages of virtual marking in comparison 
with physical marking;
    6. identification of other practical or legal concerns with virtual 
marking; and
    7. any other issues or experiences regarding virtual marking.
    Commenters are requested to include information identifying how 
they are impacted by virtual marking, e.g., whether they are patent 
owners, licensees, or any other type of user, business, or 
manufacturer.

    Dated: June 11, 2014.
Michelle K. Lee,
Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy 
Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. 2014-14044 Filed 6-13-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-16-P