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USPTO Backing Off New Patent Rules?

The USPTO may be backing off the controversial rules changes that the agency proposed in 2007. A joint motion filed on Friday (coming via the email list of Foley & Lardner partner Hal Wegner) requested a stay of the en banc proceedings in the appeal of the Tafas v. Doll suit. The reason comes down to one big factor: a new PTO director:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the nomination on July 29,2009. Id. A stay ofproceedings before the en banc court is requested to give the new Director, if confirmed, an opportunity to examine the rules at issue in this case and determine what course the USPTO should take in the future with respect to those rules, including whether to rescind the rules. Depending on how the Director decides to proceed, the legal issues currently before the en bane Court may be significantly altered or may even be rendered moot, making it unnecessary for the Court to take further action.
Now the idea that the USPTO will drop the proposed rule changes isn't a given. IBM was a "strong" proponent of the new rules, and nominated USPTO head David Kappos was in charge of IBM's IP strategy at the time. However, given much of the rancor around the issue, the Obama administration may decide to drop the rules and find other ways to achieve changes in the department, including the legislative route.

Gavel image via Flickr user Thomas Roche, CC 2.0.

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