It is New Years Eve, which means it is time to take stock by looking back at the past year, remembering, learning and becoming energized with ideas, thoughts and plans for the next year.
At IPWatchdog.com we had a splendid 2011. Our number of readers has again grown year to year. During 2011 we averaged over 71,000 unique visitors a month, compared with 67,640 unique visitors a month during 2010. During 2011 we also published 447 articles, including 98 guest contributions, 34 articles by Renee Quinn — The Social Media Diva™ and 292 articles (or interviews) by me. The remaining posts were largely press releases from the USPTO or AIPLA.
What follows is a look at the top 20 articles (in terms of traffic) published by IPWatchdog.com during 2011. Thank you for reading! We look forward to another great year in 2012!
Estimating US patent costs is a difficult matter because so much depends on the technology involved, but inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses who are new to the patent game nearly always ask “how much does it cost to get a patent?” First, it is essential to understand that the very nature of patenting an invention means that you have to have come up with something unique compared with the prior art. There are challenges inherent in the description of what makes an invention unique, and the law is only getting more complicated thanks to the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and ever more regulations from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Notwithstanding, this article explains all the fees that will be faced from search through to patent issuance and provides illustrative examples of a variety of technologies to give some hopefully useful general guidance.
This is the most popular article of 2011 written by Renee Quinn — The Social Media Diva™ — Google has been trying to create a social platform of it’s own to rival the social media giant for years, with multiple attempts. First there was Orkut, which was launched one month before Facebook in January of 2004, followed by Jaiku, which was founded in February of 2006, followed next by Wave which was released in September 2009 and is no longer being developed as a stand alone product, followed next by Buzz which was launched in February of 2010. But Google has not given up and during 2011 unveiled Google+, the newest attempt to compete with Facebook’s popularity.
Yes, the company known for pushing the envelope with high tech gadgets has entered the clothing market with a patented glove. Not just any glove mind you, but rather one that will be sure to help you keep your hands and fingers warm while still being able to use your favorite smart-gadgets. The patent issued to Apple — U.S. Patent No. 7,874,021 — is titled “High tactility glove system.” Don’t let the title fool you though. Upon review of the patent what appears to have been protected is a glove with openings at the top of the index finger, middle finger and thumb so as to allow skin to actually be able to touch the screen of your iPhone, iPad or iPod.
Another article by Renee Quinn — The Social Media Diva™. Steve Jobs, the visionary founder and leader of Apple Computer Corporation, died Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at the age of 56 after an 8-year battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Jobs, who is sometimes referred to as the father of personal computing, was the mastermind behind Apple’s Computers, iPods, iPhones, iMacs and iPad’s and is seen by many as a man who pioneered the personal computing industry and literally changed the way we live our lives every day. This article was our tribute to him; a celebration of his life and his accomplishment.
At the end of July 2011 the Federal Circuit handed a major victory to a defendant who fought a baseless patent infringement litigation, giving hope that the district courts and the Federal Circuit have had enough of patent litigation used as a ploy to shake down defendants. In Eon-Net v. Flagstar Bancorp, the district court found that Eon-Net’s litigation misconduct and its filing of a baseless infringement action in bad faith for an improper purpose warranted an exceptional case finding. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s rulings and cited with approval the district court’s characterization of the underlying lawsuit as bearing “indicia of extortion.”
Yet another contribution from Renee Quinn — The Social Media Diva™. Social media is quickly become THE way to market your business. In the US, more than two thirds of all adults who are active online are also actively using social media today, However, there is still a whopping 57% of businesses who, for one reason or another do not understand the real impact that social media can have on their businesses. Gaining new and retaining old customers, sharing your products and services to a broader audience and giving your customers a voice, are just a few of the many benefits that using social media can bring to your business. There are many myths and misconceptions that keep business owners and marketers from reaping the benefits that social media.
Guest contributor Beth Hutchens wrote: “It appears that ‘top 5’ or ‘top 10’ lists are quite popular here on IPWatchdog. Allow me this opportunity to jump in with a list of my own. Please enjoy, in no particular order, seven of the most common misconceptions about intellectual property. Yes-seven.” Beth’s wit and humor is not to be missed. It is not surprising that this article was the most popular guest contribution for 2011.
Guest contributor Ryan Chiromas wrote this article about the oral arguments in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories. The Supreme Court addressed the question of patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101 for the first time since the Bilski decision last year. Previously, the CAFC held that the administration step was transformative since it required changes within the patient’s body. The CAFC also held that the determining step was transformative because a transformation was required in order to detect the metabolite level in the blood. As such, the CAFC regarded both claims as complying with 35 U.S.C. §101. The CAFC stated that these claims recited not a law of nature, but an application of a law of nature. Like the Myriad Genetics case at the CAFC earlier this year, this oral hearing included attorneys for both sides, as well as a representative of the U.S. Government. A decision is expected in the first half of 2012.
Unfortunately, if you are stuck at the idea stage of the invention process you are not ready to file a patent application, and also you do not want to run out and start telling people or submitting your idea to companies. So what to do if you are stuck and need to move forward? One thing that I recommend is that you consider using the Invent & Patent System™ to help you flesh out your idea and put enough meat on the bones of the idea so that it will be transformed into a detailed description and invention. You could also tell others about your idea in order to search for help, but I only recommend you do this with a signed confidentiality agreement in place. Next, you might be able to locate some college students or graduate students who would be interested in working with you on your project.
During 2011 the United States Patent and Trademark Office has recently launched an online forum titled Discuss the MPEP, which as the title suggests will allow interested individuals to discuss sections of the MPEP, otherwise known as the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure. The goal of this discussion forum is to provide the editors of the MPEP with information useful when considering re-writing the MPEP. The goal for versions of the MPEP to come is to create a document hat will enable both practitioners and examiners to find information quickly, get accurate and complete guidance, and ensure that all patent applications comply with the laws and regulations governing the patent system.
The United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Stanford v. Roche, a decision that has been much anticipated in the technology transfer world. At issue in the case was whether the Bayh-Dole Act automatically vested ownership of patent rights in Universities when the underlying research was federally funded. In a blow to the convention wisdom of Supreme Court patent-watchers, the Supreme Court affirmed the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In affirming the Federal Circuit, would later go on to say: “The Bayh-Dole Act’s provision stating that contractors may “elect to retain title” confirms that the Act does not vest title.”
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) updated its registration examination effective April 12, 2011. The changes ensure that newly registered patent attorneys and agents are fully qualified in the most current patent laws, rules and procedures. This change marks the first change to the exam in approximately 5 years, and will bring the patent bar exam current with law, rules and regulations. Those who are interested in taking the patent bar exam should consider this update a major revision, indeed such a major revision to the test that old patent bar exams circulating the Internet will be an insufficient means to study for the new exam.
Another by Renee Quinn — The Social Media Diva™. Social Media is not advertising and it is not just a fad. Social Media is here to stay. It is a relationship-building tool and like most tools, if you do not use them properly, you will either get little benefit out of using it, or you will damage that which you are working on. It is imperative to first know what you want out of your Social Media campaign, including who your target market is and then plan your strategy around the goals that you set. Think of Social Media as a way to build your brand, show your expertise and build your credibility within the business community.
On Thursday, July 21, 2011, attorneys for Lodsys LLC, a company rapidly becoming a reviled patent troll, filed an amended complaint in the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. (*) As a result of this amended complaint some big names in the gaming world have been brought into the ongoing patent litigation battles being waged by Lodsys. Lodsys had already sued a number of Apple App developers and others such as Best Buy and the New York Times, and now has brought patent infringement charges against Atari Interactive, Inc. and Electronic Arts, Inc.
This is a guest contribution, co-written by Eldora L. Ellison, Ph.D. and Jeremiah B. Frueauf. On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act and, with his signature, which will marshal in major changes to the U.S. patent system. Many provisions of the Act take effect a year or more after this date including, e.g., procedures for post-grant review proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (after September 16, 2012) and a change to a first inventor to file system (after March 16, 2013). However, a number of changes will take effect on September 16, 2011, or soon thereafter. Those immediate and nearly immediate changes are detailed in this article.
Inventors and entrepreneurs who shop around find that if they take their invention to a number of different patent attorneys they are likely to get a number of different quotes for services ranging from patent searches to patent applications. There is no great mystery regarding how some can charge bargain basement prices — they do less work. By spending little and allowing the written description to be no broader than the claims that are filed you are making a huge mistake. If a price like $1,400 is all you can afford that is one thing, but fooling yourself into believing you are buying a Cadillac, or a Ferrari when you are paying for a Yugo is ridiculous.
The America Invents Act is dense, language choices from section to section in some places change and in other places remains the same, making you suspect that different terms must mean different things but the same term in different places has to mean the same thing, right? Patent attorneys should really read the Act about 10 times, and that is a minimum. Every time you read it you notice something a little different. This is a major re-write of patent laws and not one that is at all simple. That being said, this was my attempt to provide a high level overview of the America Invents Act.
There’s only one thing more disheartening to an online retailer than knowing that a lot of customers are going to abandon their shopping carts before completing a purchase. Larry Drebes, CEO of Janrain, Inc., wrote this article about a new technology called “social login,” which allows website visitors to log in using their Facebook, Twitter, or other social media identity and avoid registration and password hassles entirely. This dramatically increases sales.
What’s in a name? Well likely far more than most businesses realize. Your business name is how people will identify with your goods and services, so you want to have one identity that is all your own. Simple enough really, at least in concept, but making a mistake at the selection stage will prove costly. If you are a new business, a young business or just in the process of forming your business, you should be spending time trying to come up with a unique name that gives you the ability to secure trademark protection for the name, gives you the ability to acquire the DOT COM domain name, and which gives you the ability to secure appropriate matching usernames in various social media outlets.
Shortly after 2011 started Congress was at it once again, with the Senate Judiciary Committee reporting out a bill that remarkably resembled the bill that has been unable to gain any traction in the Senate for the last several years. That would suggest that the same fate is in store for this legislation. Not so fast! While my faith in the ability of Congress to get patent reform across the finish line was on-again-off-again throughout 2011, back in February 2011 I wrote: “I have a suspicion that this year things are different and that we really could be on the cusp of patent reform.” Why? patent reform had over the previous 5 or 6 years always heated up toward the end of the Congressional Session, allowing opponents to fight to drag out the battle for only a few weeks before a new Congress would have to start over. With patent reform coming up so early in a new Congress it seemed far more likely something would happen.