Acting PTO Director Joseph Matal Speaks to Independent Inventors

L-R: Landreneau, Matal, Rasanan at TBIC

On Wednesday October 11, the acting Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Joseph Matal, was the guest speaker at the Tampa Bay Inventors Council (TBIC) bi-monthly meeting. TBIC is a non-profit inventors group founded in 1983, similar to many other inventors groups nationwide that are run by and cater to independent inventors.  Clubs like the TBIC provide help, advice, camaraderie and networking for independent inventors and early stage startups in every aspect of invention, licensing and commercialization of their startup businesses including patenting, prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, sales, funding and more.

During the protest organized by US Inventor in August that included patent burning on the front steps of the Patent and Trademark Office, Joe Matal walked through the protesters to listen to their concerns. As a result, Randy Landreneau invited Mr. Matal to visit TBIC in Tampa to hear from inventors.  Randy is a Board Member of US Inventor, and a former President and current Board Member of TBIC.  Joe Matal accepted the invitation and came to the TBIC meeting this week.

Given the damage done to independent inventors by the creation of the PTAB, under the America Invents Act, a law Mr. Matal was closely involved in writing and passing, It certainly took courage for Mr. Matal to attend.  In fact, the damage caused by the PTAB was the focus of the protest, and is of great concern to independent inventors and early-stage investors nationwide because of the alarming rate at which it is invalidating patents.

Mr. Matal opened his discussion stating his belief that independent inventors are the lifeblood of American innovation. He said that a patent is a property right and that whether an inventor actually manufactures the invention or seeks to license it, the rights provided by the patent should be the same. Having said this, he still believes that the PTAB should be able to invalidate a patent, but he did say that it is definitely time to look at the PTAB closely and see what can be done to make it operate more fairly. While he reiterated several times he is only acting and a permanent replacement has been nominated, he said that he would be surprised if this didn’t happen.

Wayne Rasanen, President of TBIC, provided several questions that inventor clubs in Minnesota, California, Nevada and Kansas as well as the United Inventors Association had sent in to be asked. The ensuing discussion covered all the subjects that you would expect and some unexpected subjects.  Throughout this exchange, Mr. Matal purveyed a very strong sense that the current Administration is aware that things are not as they should be, that this is affecting American innovation and startups, and that things are underway to improve the situation.

When the floor was opened up to questions, there were several stories from the audience of being infringed by Chinese companies, and of that infringement being facilitated by online companies like AliBaba. Mr. Matal said “it kills us to see a small inventor being ripped off.” He said that the current Administration has a 301 investigation underway regarding China and various abuses of American intellectual property rights. He couldn’t provide any details because it is an ongoing investigation, but the inference was that something will be done that will help us.

One inventor had been subjected to multiple PTAB reviews.  The PTAB is a review of patentability and because his patents were not being asserted for infringement, there is no possible return to pay attorneys to assist with the PTAB review.  This left the inventor helpless and without legal representation.

Another inventor discussed how the high likelihood of invalidation was making it much harder to attract investment, and without investment it is nearly impossible to startup up a company to commercialize the invention or to license it.  He stated that inventors could do other activities like spend more time with their families or golfing if there is no way to get a return for their hard work and personal investment.

Mr. Matal encouraged independent inventors to engage with their elected representatives and push their message because they are the key to real innovation and the positive economic results that follow.   He stated that congress is listening and they are all very concerned with keeping America innovative and competitive.

The inventors present at this meeting definitely left with the feeling that things are moving in the right direction for independent inventors and early-stage investors, and with a much stronger faith that the Patent and Trademark Office has their interests at heart.

We would like to publicly thank Mr. Matal for coming to meet with inventors and providing a message of hope.

The Author

Randy Landreneau

Randy Landreneau is an inventor and product developer. He is a former President of the Tampa Bay Inventors Council and is a Managing Board Member of US Inventor. He is also President of Complete Product Development, a company that provides CAD design, prototyping, 3D printing, silicone molding and educational services to inventors and companies.

Randy Landreneau

Wayne Rasanen is a broadcast director/editor/producer for over 35 years and current President of the Tampa Bay Inventors Council, a position held for the past 11 years. He was the primary Director & Senior Editor at Channel 28 in Tampa when it was a Fox affiliate, and later, Senior Editor at CPN and Diamond P Post Production houses. He now shares his video production skills freelance. From the Super Bowl to NHRA, ESPN sports to Training videos for NAUI, commercials and infomercials; it’s very likely that you have seen some of his work on TV. As a product developer himself, he understands the challenges to bringing a product to market and the importance of delivering a powerful message. His company, IN10DID, Inc. has developed a new one-handed bluetooth keyboard with only 10 keys that replace a full standard keyboard for texting while mobile. His DecaTxt Keyboard allows control of a computer while using a Virtual Reality headset and provides assistive technology for those with limitations. He is an active member of the Tampa Bay community and recently spoke at Ignite Tampa Bay 2017 about building a Hyperloop using renewable resources. He was also recently featured by the Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 31 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. Josh Malone October 14, 2017 2:51 pm

    Thanks for doing this Randy and Wayne. This is a positive sign, but still a long way to go. The day after your meeting with Matal, his PTAB instituted yet another trial on my patents. This makes 4 out of 4 times they sided with Telebrands, against the inventor, against the examiners, and against the real court.

    They say one of ordinary skill cannot understand what I mean by the “containers … press against each other regardless of whether [they] are in a filled state or an unfilled state”.

    If the Trump administration is listening, it is not being relayed to the PTAB yet.

  2. Bemused October 15, 2017 1:17 am

    Randy, your article noted that Matal stated that “a patent is a property right”. I presume that Matal meant that a patent is a private property right and not a public right?

    If that presumption is correct, did anyone ask Matal why the PTO (of which he’s the current acting director) is taking the position in Oil States that patents are public rights?

  3. angry dude October 15, 2017 10:31 am

    Fool me once – shame on you
    fool me twice – shame on me

    thanks but no thanks

  4. dh October 15, 2017 12:56 pm

    Mr. Matal said “it kills us to see a small inventor being ripped off.” He said that the current Administration has a 301 investigation underway regarding China and various abuses of American intellectual property rights. He couldn’t provide any details because it is an ongoing investigation, but the inference was that something will be done that will help us.

    This looks to be a convenient deflection from the actual, domestic issue of USPTO policy. Why talk about China when there is no protection, and outright hostility, within US borders?

  5. Bemused October 15, 2017 2:19 pm

    angry dude@3: I know that you’re enraged over the abuses in the current US patent system (and likely have every right to be) but if you’re not going to post anything other than these types of comments why are you even bothering to read this blog and post comments?

    There’s no malice intended with that question. I’m somewhat mystified by the fact that all you do is post comments that you won’t file any more patents, what a rip-off the patent system is, etc, etc. Yes, we know and agree with you that the current patent system is outrageously skewed against patent holders. But this kind of commentary does nothing to further our collective goal of trying to right these wrongs.

    You should seriously consider channeling that anger into more productive practices such as joining US Inventor; reaching out to Josh Malone and Paul Morinville who spend an inordinate amount of time (for all our benefit) lobbying Congress to see how you can help their lobbying efforts; submitting articles to IPW on your experiences with the USPTO/PTAB to help shed further light on absues; etc; etc.

    If you want to get pay-back on the efficient infringer lobby which has wronged you, help out by helping us blow up the current patent system.

    Respectfully,
    B

  6. dh October 15, 2017 4:23 pm

    For example, Apple owns Foxconn; Foxconn owns Apple; there are clearly such multinational interests across many industries.

    If people like Mr. Matal were able to remotely dissipate our energy and frustration with this irrelevant, banal, nationalistic finger-pointing; then, what truly pathetic idiots we would have to be.

    Why not fix our own hemisphere first?

  7. Eric Berend October 15, 2017 5:25 pm

    Perhaps Mr. Matal is speaking to the next generation of independent inventors in the U.S. It is difficult to see what could restore any confidence in the current patent system; when the whole charade of PTAB review allows for any party to institute review regardless of interest or standing, and its infinite bites at the apple against the inventor or patent holder in its proceedings.

    The very concept of review of validity is anathema to the establishment of a patent. Even in the absence of a designation of patent, where parcels of real estate property are considered owned by title, there is only one ‘bite at the apple’ accorded any claimant against that title, and that, only if there is legitimate standing by interest. Therefore, to treat a superior establishment of property right in such derogatory ways is to make but a pretense of said designation, where so-called “patents” are treated as if these as mere licenses.

    Historically, “patent” = ‘inviolate property right’. The Founders could readily have designated these grants as leases, licenses or titles; all, categories of property ownership in the real (land and buildings) with centuries of jurisprudence at that time from British property law. No: the Founding Fathers quite deliberately chose ‘PATENT’ for this societal and economic function, and limited the term of this version so as to avoid the establishment of ‘new aristocracies’ in the form of monopolies.

    Furthermore, the positive economic potential of the bargain implied in the original U.S. pre-AIA patent practice, prosecution and jurisprudence was considered by the Founding Fathers to be so important, that the Patent Act of 1790 was one of the first Acts passed by the new U.S. Congress after the adoption of the Constitution.

    And, this does not even address the downright hostility shown inventors all too frequently, at the CAFC and the SCOTUS.

    So, while Mr. Matal can speak about recognizing the importance of individual inventors, and understanding limitations of his U.S. agency powers, he is too fond of his creation in the PTAB, which now consumes an outsized proportion of resources within the USPTO; even to the extent of diverting proceeds of inventor’s application fees. These resources should go towards improving support and training for examiners.

    For all the lip service to “patent quality” as a driving force in upending patent prosecution practice, very little has been done to improve the expertise or robustness of patent examiner personnel in the USPTO. For all the lip service about “weeding out poor quality patents” at the PTAB in the enactment of the AIA, it is consistently the most valuable that are the most frequently and strenuously attacked in IPR, CBM and PGR and NOT the merely ‘weak’, “low quality” patents. For all the lip service about how the provisions of the AIA would “eliminate the troll problem”, it is now, only the most committed PAE’s that are able to even attempt assertion of U.S. patent holder rights – the inventors’ prospects are ruined.

    Again: he must be postulating about relating to the NEXT generation of American (U.S.) individual inventors

  8. Tiburon October 15, 2017 6:45 pm

    Reality check: money talks and inventors filing pieces of paper contribute less to society than software corporations employing high salaried software engineers and contributing taxes.

    For this reason, Congress will continue to favor the Google’s and Cloudflare’s over independent inventors.

  9. Eric Berend October 15, 2017 7:39 pm

    Reality check: as inventive genius is increasingly recognized elsewhere besides the United States and the communitariat mob of idiot zealot sycophants such as “Tiburon” above, continue to perpetrate their technocratic hivemind mentality against the human interests of the rest of the world, the U.S. will fall behind the other more developed advanced economies of the world, and the greater wealth will be gained, by far, in China, and Germany.

  10. Tiburon October 15, 2017 7:48 pm

    Deployed software contributes to the economy by paying salaries and taxes, while patents by themselves contribute nothing UNTIL someone else does write the software and can be sued.

    Parasites like Eric Berend would like you to believe otherwise.

  11. Jeff Lindsay October 15, 2017 8:45 pm

    Did I read this correctly? “Another inventor discussed how the high likelihood of invalidation was making it much harder to attract investment, and without investment it is nearly impossible to startup up a company to commercialize the invention or to license it. He stated that inventors could do other activities like spend more time with their families or golfing if there is no way to get a return for their hard work and personal investment.

    Did he actually say that??

    “Let them eat cake” has been updated to “let them play golf.”

  12. dh October 15, 2017 10:42 pm

    Jeff Lindsay – Thank you for highlighting such an incredible statement.

    Yes – let me second that query: Did he actually say that??

    If he did, then I would say that it is fairly clear how he was groomed for his current position.

  13. David October 15, 2017 11:04 pm

    With Oil States before the Supreme Court, Joe Matal is a wounded animal. Nothing he does or says should be trusted. I don’t know why you are wasting your time interacting with him.

  14. angry dude October 16, 2017 8:30 am

    Tiburon@9

    with no respect, dude, you are an id1ot

    “software” patents like RSA made entire industries like e-commerce possible

    “software” patents on audio and video compression technologies make smartphones and zillions of other products possible

    just go away troll

  15. Eric Berend October 16, 2017 9:14 am

    @ (: ‘Tiburon”:

    You owe me and every other inventor here an apology, IP pirate sycophant scoundrel. It is past time that you were called out in this forum. You do NOTHING to contribute to this discussion, beyond bleating anti-patent screeds that amount to a pile of rubbish. Now, to level a charge of “parasite” at an inventor son of an inventor who has spent years of his life, in genius efforts to improve the world according to my talents – well, you can just ‘shove it’ right there, insipid troll.

    You write as if U.S. patents have no other purpose, than to obstruct the “business” of the software industry. The TRUTH is, the REAL PARASITES are those such as your technocratic heroes who run roughshod over all other legitimate stakeholders in our society today, with the mantra of “move fast and break things”. REALLY? Meaning: break anything, EVEN THE LAW, if you have to, to shove everyone else out of the way. Truly: you blockhead code-worshipping morons actually believe in your own sneering superiority complexes.

    Well, *newsflash*, sycophant moron troll: there are other established interests, both public and private, in the U.S. system of laws, including those pertaining to IP protections; and specifically patents, copyrights and trademarks. All of these have existed in some form for centuries before your petty, unprincipled, treacherous and pathetic attempts at tawdry manipulation at the issues involved.

    Your precious johnny-come-lately software, in the area of process innovations, has been of consideration for a mere 60 years maximum out of a jurisprudence reaching back some 225 years in the United States and at least 300 years before that, in England. Yet, you DARE presume to obviate the establishments and roles of existing technologies, that made it possible for you to write your computer programming processes, in the first place?

    You have some nerve – that much I will allow: so brave behind your mighty keyboard. In every way, every entry you have made here in this forum, is disingenuous, antagonistic, without merit whatsoever; and, amounts to nothing more than a mouthpiece for patent enmity.

  16. Bemused October 16, 2017 9:27 am

    Eric Berend@15: Can I print out your comment and frame it? Beautiful response to a clueless anti-patent schmuck. 🙂

  17. Amnon M Cohen October 16, 2017 11:10 am

    It is good to see that the new director is listening to the grass-roots concerns of inventors, and in the past, the USAPTO had listened to my input as the former lobbyist for our regional society in BC Canada, but I hope it will be wiser that they listen closer to proposals like the one resulted from my work – like the real full PrePatent Registration wisdom, which is not just the Provisional Patent they created and the lowering of initial costs in my presentation so many years ago. The prepatent.org website, does cover the general and basic wisdom, including the far reaching “global taxation treaty” proposal, so to pave the way for the commercialization of new discoveries, innovations, systems and methods, as in the original mandate of making Patents a tool for successful National & International Economic Development and not a costly, income generator for the PTO in a cataclysmic global economy of monopolies ignoring small startups and taking over the successful innovations.

  18. dh October 16, 2017 2:16 pm

    @Tiburon

    You managed to make one correct observation, in spite of your far less honest objectives:

    “Reality check: money talks”

    But, you see – we are attempting to preserve an institution that operates, instead, around a different set of principles. Read the U.S. Consititution and see if you can guess what those are.

  19. Paul Morinville October 16, 2017 10:40 pm

    The comment “He stated that inventors could do other activities like spend more time with their families or golfing if there is no way to get a return for their hard work and personal investment.” was made by the inventor/entrepreneur – not Joe Matal.

  20. dh October 16, 2017 11:04 pm

    Morinville,

    If that were indeed the correct antecedent for the ambiguous pronoun, I would find it a rather strange and fanciful statement to relay to the reader – “the inventor” was countering and responding to his own immediate complaint, in the third person?

    A confirmation from the authors would be far more conclusive.

  21. Tiburon October 17, 2017 10:08 am

    Eric Berend – the software corporations you continuously vilify have created many jobs (high paying salaries at that) while an entire patent industry has developed that incentivizes sitting around and waiting for someone to “copy” them.

  22. Eric Berend October 17, 2017 11:54 am

    @ 21., ‘Tiburon’:

    First of all, you inaccurately characterize my description of the worst criminals in SiliCON Valley, as “continuously vilifying” software corporations. You have no idea that I had an entire career in software development ruined by the machinations and crimes of Microsoft, Inc, in the brutal OS Wars of the 1980’s.

    You are so ignorant in your unprincipled, zealous rants against patents *no matter what*, that you fail to even perceive: there are those of us who worked with computer hardware and software before you were born. Believe it or not, there is usually very little ‘new under the sun’: for instance, software ‘Containers’ that are all the rage in enterprise deployments; these days? Try Nikolaus Wirth’s design process from the Modula-2 to the Modula-3 programming languages. The considerations are quite similar.

    For you to presume to come on to a forum widely known as being patent-friendly for principled and specialized reasons and spew character assassinations like candy corn, is truly disingenuous, unfounded, completely mendacious; and frankly, reads as a juvenile spout of petty evil.

    The world; and the realm of technology; are both, each, much broader and deeper in scope than that which pertains to mere computer software concerns. The following is a mere partial list of seminal technologies in the history of the United States and in general, the “Western World” – and the commercialization of which also occurred here (since that is the standard by which you specifically derogate inventors as “parasites”) :

    Solution process for mining
    Colorfast dies of fabrics
    Generation of electricity from kinetic motion (the dynamo)
    Extended transmission capabilities of electrical power (alternating current)
    Remote communication by electrical circuit (the telegraph)
    Remote communication by voice over electrical circuit (the telephone)
    The radio
    Cotton gin
    Crop harvesters
    Grain threshers
    Durable rubber (the vulcanization process; enabled pneumatic tires)
    Electric incandescent light filament and enclosure (“bulb”)
    Television
    Diamond frame (“safety”) bicycle (almost all U.S. auto and airplane makers started as bicycle makers; an entire mechanical industry supporting further developments)
    Internal combustion engine, spark fired
    Internal combustion engine, compression fired (“Diesel”)
    Aerodynamic wing design for flying machines (Wright Brothers; first flight)

    And, that is but a partial sampling of the essential, mostly PHYSICAL APPARATUS based inventions which gained benefit of fostering their seminal developments under the benefits of U.S. patent protections. Machines you rely upon unconsciously EVERY DAY, even as you decry the so-called “evil” of patents – and DARE call inventors “parasites”.

    N.B.: Also, might I recommend some classic books for your reading list? Your narrow minded myopia, seeing the world world as ‘software or nothing’, could use some societal and political enlightenment:

    Animal Farm, George Orwell
    Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
    Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
    The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, Marshall McLuhon
    Lord of the Flies, William Golding
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    The Rebel, Albert Camus

    Oh, and recommended for narrow-minded blockheads, such as yourself as expressed in this forum:

    The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
    Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
    Nop’s Trials, Donald McCabe

    Lighten up a bit, in life. I may well have had the potential of a $10 Billion fortune ruined by the changes to the U.S. patent jurisprudence in these past 15 years. However, do you see me blithely practicing character assassination, in the “enemy’s” house? NO; of course not: and, if you have even a shred of merit or principle, that should be the same answer, for you.

  23. Eric Berend October 17, 2017 12:03 pm

    @ 16. ‘Bemused’:

    Thank you for the compliment (the slight risk of appearing as a mutual admiration society, so noted).

  24. Tiburon October 17, 2017 12:04 pm

    Eric Berend: money talks, and in today’s world jobs are money. Taxes raised from software industry trump taxes raised from patent lawyers waiting for someone else to commercialize a product. Congress recognizes that.

  25. angry dude October 17, 2017 1:30 pm

    Tiburon@24

    We got it already, dude

    from now on trade secrets only

    binary code encryption, secure boot, fpga’s, asics

    no more algo flowcharts and pseudo-code for dudes like you to see on uspto.gov

    get back to your high-salaried slave software “engineer” job

  26. Don Hilliard October 17, 2017 1:58 pm

    @Tiburon,

    Yes – please read more classic literature, so that perhaps you can generate a both more logically and grammatically astute understanding of the reality you are openly encouraging.

    You might also go do business with the corrupt bureaucracy of a third-world country, so as to also reach some much-neeeded clarity on the natural outcome of your prescriptions.

  27. Gene Quinn October 17, 2017 2:06 pm

    Tiburon-

    You say: “Taxes raised from software industry trump taxes raised from patent lawyers waiting for someone else to commercialize a product.”

    What does that even mean? Please try and more clearly convey your thoughts.

  28. Tiburon October 17, 2017 2:26 pm

    Angry Dude – “algo flowcharts and pseudo-code on uspto.gov” are in many ways inferior to things like github containing actual working code.

  29. Tiburon October 17, 2017 2:53 pm

    Gene – I’ll try again:

    I suggest it is important for society to allow startups to deploy revenue-generating products and not allow others with merely a piece of paper to block them.

    Software is a big field and moves fast. I suggest it is problematic to ask small software startups to search&comb thru uspto.gov whether someone, somewhere, in some other unrelated software field previously invented some 50lines of code you are using in your 50k, 200k, or 1m lines of code. That’s just the tip of it – that 50lines of code could be split up into 2 pieces of 25lines of code, etc… In effect, software code and patents in human language seem highly incompatible. How can one use “a plurality of X to do Y” to easily determine if their code is infringing? Now multiple by 10’s of thousands of patents.

    The reason this applies to the next PTO Director is because imposing patent constraints on software innovators will slow them down – and slow downs in a competitive world where others do not have those constraints will lead to problems. There is no sense of “Made in America” when purchasing software – so if China doesn’t impose (let’s call it “patent constraints”) then they’ll get their product out the door faster and with less complexity and so less bugs than an American entity that had to spend extra effort to comply and build workarounds for the cases where patent licenses were deemed not profitable.

  30. angry dude October 17, 2017 8:52 pm

    Tiburon@28

    with no respect, you are an id1ot, dude

    flowcharts express an algorithm regardless of specific language of implementation details making it much easier to understand the basic idea
    same with pseudo-code
    makes it much shorter and cleaner
    no declarations, no complex data structures, just pure algorithmic essence

    I myself put several pages of actual working matlab code (not easy to read and understand) in my provisional patent application, but then put only several flowcharts in the regular patent application expressing the very essence of my invention (in the field of digital signal processing)

    You dude have such a narrow horizon – you do not even understand what “software” is…

    digital signal processing, for example, is so much math and R&D intensive that
    those precious new algos do not go on github – they are either under patents or trade secrets

    you want secrets ?

    you got it !

  31. angry dude October 17, 2017 9:12 pm

    Tiburon@29

    “I suggest it is important for society to allow startups to deploy revenue-generating products and not allow others with merely a piece of paper to block them”

    Yeah right

    so if I’m an MIT professor or some PhD freak in the basement like myself and I write something like this

    C=M^e (mod n)
    M=C^d (mod n) etc etc
    (the famous RSA algo)

    on a piece of paper and submit it to USPTO
    then some startup like ebay can just use it to do their sh1tty online e-commerce business without paying a dime ?

    you dude are totally screwed up in the head

Post a Comment

Respectfully add to the discussion.

Name *
Email *
Website