The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will conduct a roundtable in January 2013 to obtain public input on whether it should promulgate regulations “that would require greater public transparency concerning the ownership of patent applications and patents by requiring the provision of real-party-in-interest information during patent prosecutions and at certain times post-issuance.” Those wishing to participate in the January 11 roundtable in Alexandria, Virginia, must submit a request no later than December 21, 2012. Written comments must be submitted by January 25, 2013.

According to USPTO, “Markets operate most efficiently when buyers and sellers can find one another. Yet in our current system, fragmented ownership in the patent rights covering complex products leads to potential buyers facing difficulty finding sellers, and to potential innovators not understanding the nature of the marketplace they are considering entering.”

In USPTO’s view, the benefits of more complete patent ownership information include (i) better public understanding “of what patent rights being issued by the United States are being held and maintained by various entities”; (ii) more complete information for financial markets “about the valuable assets being generated and held by companies”; (iii) better allocation of research and development resources by inventors and manufacturers on the basis of an improved understanding of the competitive environment, as well as the ability to “more efficiently obtain licenses and accurately value patent portfolios and patent estates that they may seek to acquire”; and (v) facilitated USPTO patent examination. See Federal Register, November 26, 2012.