Combating complex diseases, climate change, and the loss of biodiversity requires
shared innovation on an unprecedented, global scale. Patent law plays a significant role in
innovation, but to facilitate the coalescence of diverse groups of researchers, scientists, and
innovators, policymakers need to increase the worldwide compatibility of patentability
requirements. In particular, policymakers need to harmonize the so-called grace period, the
specified period of time preceding the filing of a patent where an inventor’s own disclosures do
not become part of the prior art.
This Article contends that the grace period variances between the five largest patent
offices in the world—those of China, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the
European Union—decrease the likelihood of international coordination of research and
international collaborative partnerships, as well as increase administrative costs and uncertainty.
The solution, this Article argues, is for these five patent offices to adopt a semiuniform grace
period that covers prepatent disclosures made in reasonable, research-related endeavors. The
new, more synchronized grace period would provide a higher level of domestic and
international certainty than currently exists. At the same time, the new grace period would
preserve flexibility that is needed because of inevitable cultural differences and varying local
needs of innovators.

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