Patents: Overdue Reform

The world's archaic maze of patent laws and procedures has long been a major nuisance to international-minded businessmen, who insist that it inhibits the global spread of patent benefits through new technology, new industry and expanded markets. Last week delegates from 22 major countries—including the U.S., Britain, France, West Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union, which account for 80% of the world's patent applications—reached preliminary agreement in Geneva on some overdue reforms.

To end the muddle the conferees approved the provisions of an international treaty that requires a separate application in every country where businessmen want to protect inventions from...

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