Guest Contributors

Russell Slifer

Building a Portfolio in a Depressed Patent Market

Posted 5 hours ago

Eventually Congress will recognize that all the changes enacted to address the overblown patent troll issue has resulted in far more damage to U.S. competitiveness. This revelation, unfortunately, will take time as the old patent troll narrative is still being cited on the Hill. In the interim, inventors and U.S. companies need to re-evaluate their IP protection strategy… Too often the reaction to losing portfolio value is to decrease investment in the portfolio. That is the wrong approach. More effort and investment need to be made to identify key assets, perform thorough prior art searches and draft applications/claims that can withstand an IPR petition. Keep a patent application family alive with very diverse claim strategies for these key assets.

Benjamin Joe

Viewers stream 7 billion hours of content on Roku

Posted 1 day ago

Roku offers 5,000 streaming channels through its Channel Store and, to help consumers find interesting content more easily, it has developed a channel-targeting technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8627388 titled Method and Apparatus for Channel Prioritization. This patent protects a method by which the maximum amount of channels that the client device can use are filled with available channels of targeted content, usually based on the most popular channels or those channels which are accessed most often by the client device. The increasingly large amount of data, video, audio, and gaming options that Roku users can choose from makes it harder for the user to find favored content from a desired content provider. The problem is exacerbated by the different ways a user can access content such as renting, buying or subscribing to content. The method this patent protects manages content in a streaming media environment and runs a preloaded channel in the background to reduce lag.

Ben Natter

USPTO Navigates New Territory In The Wake of Matal v. Tam

Posted 3 days ago

The USPTO issued Examination Guide 01-17 on Monday, June 26, 2017, entitled “Examination Guidance for Section 2(a)’s Disparagement Provision after Matal v. Tam and Examination for Compliance with Section 2(a)’s Scandalousness Provision While Constitutionality Remains in Question.” This Guide explains how trademark applications with arguably disparaging or scandalous content will be examined in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Matal… The Supreme Court’s ruling in Matal cleared the way for a slew of new and possibly offensive trademark applications of a kind that have been consistently denied since 1946. Whether this protection will be extended to a wider category of potentially incendiary marks hinges on the Federal Court’s pending review of Brunetti.

Robert Tremblay

Toronto Real Estate Board Dispute Shows Awkwardness of Copyright Protection for Databases

Posted 3 days ago

Legal protection for databases in Canada is, perhaps surprisingly, a little convoluted. In some jurisdictions, unique database rights have been legislated (e.g. the EU). This is not yet the case in Canada where protection instead comes from a patchwork of rights provided by different regimes. Traditional intellectual property (“IP”) rights provide some protection, but with sufficient gaps to make exclusive reliance on IP inadvisable… In the decision, the Competition Tribunal found that the information in the MLS database does not attract copyright protection. The decision sets out the Tribunal’s attempt to apply the relevant copyright case law to determine whether copyright subsists in the overall arrangement of information in the MLS database.

Christopher Hall

Testing a Patent Claim against an Abstract Idea, in Response to 35 USC §101 Rejection

Posted 4 days ago

One promising approach is to argue that the claims are directed to a specific technological solution to a specific technological problem, as has been successful in the courts. But, even this may not be convincing, if argued in the abstract, because, after all, we are dealing with abstract ideas to begin with, and it is all too easy for an examiner to dismiss an abstract argument as “not convincing”. A concrete, bright line test can be constructed, which may sway an examiner (or appeal board, if the rejection is appealed). Articulate a specific technological problem that the claims solve or are directed to solving. Analyze the claim and cite some of the important claim limitations that are not present in the alleged abstract idea, and explain the significance of these claim limitations in terms of the technological problem and technological solution.

Jianqing Wu, Ph.D.

High patent quality standard adversely impacts all inventors

Posted 5 days ago

High novelty, high non-obviousness standard, inconvenient court venue for patent owners, and limited availability of injunction remedies, reduced damages, threaten liabilities will hurt all classes of inventors except that it has less impact on corporate inventors. The invalidation procedure will discourage inventive activities of all classes with most serious impacts on independent inventors and accidental inventors. This is one biggest class of inventors who often come up with game-changing and surprising inventions. When would-be-inventors run into problems or solutions, why would they spend time and money to make inventions, spend more money to get patents, and get the business to defend patents in endless invalidation actions? High patent quality standard forces existing professional inventors to leave their invention business and discourage young people from becoming future inventors. In this highly uncertain time with a large number of dormant epidemic diseases, one or a few inventions may save population life when vaccine is unavailable.

Neal Solomon

The Problem of Patent Valuation

Posted 5 days ago

In many cases, the challenge of patent quality is reduced to questions of patent validity. However, in other cases, the quality of a patent depends on economic valuation, which is a market phenomenon. After all, if a patent lacks any value in market, why would infringers care about it at all? Only valuable patents that have market impact are directly attacked by incumbents. This observation leads to the revelation that all patent disputes are based, not on patent quality, but on patent valuation. In the main, most patents of high value are considered high quality inventions, with low quality inventions not having value in the market… The modern patent system originated in Venice. At first, it worked well. But eventually, a cartel of market incumbents exercised their market power, took over the system by modifying its rules and diminished the effectiveness of the patent system for their self-interest. The effects of these changes were disastrous as technological progress slowed and the economy floundered. We are seeing a repeat of this market phenomenon in the U.S.

Philip Nulud

Like It or Love It: How Not to Get Pinned (Legally) When Using Social Media to Promote Your Brand

Posted 6 days ago

Twitter®, Instagram®, Facebook®, Pinterest® and other social media websites and apps are great avenues for advertising and promotion of one’s business and brand. However, in using social media to promote one’s business, there are a number of pitfalls that one must avoid. Using social media in relation to a business is not the same as using social media for personal, non-commercial use… The issues with using someone else’s copyrights, right of publicity and trademark in social media to promote a business is that the business is arguably profiting off of someone else’s property that does not belong to them. That can and does create a significant amount of conflict. Profiting from another’s property is what separates the use of social media in business from just personal use.

Patrick Cantrill

UK Supreme Court says regardless of Article 2, doctrine of equivalents exists under UK patent law

Posted 6 days ago

The UK Supreme Court recently addressed the extent to which under the European Patent Convention 2000 (“EPC 2000”), a patentee may obtain protection against products or processes that are not covered by the literal meaning of the claims. In doing so, the UKSC modified what had been previously seen as the established approach of the UK courts towards ‘equivalents’. In particular, while not disapproving the test, the Court has chosen to reformulate the three “Improver” questions that, since 1990, have been in common usage for aiding determinations as to what might constitute patent infringement… The UKSC has concluded that subsequent to the Improver decision, which was then reinforced by the judgment in Kirin-Amgen, there has been a tendency by the UK courts to place “..too much weight on the words of the claim…” and what the patentee might have anticipated or intended. Instead, the UK courts should have focused on whether, on a basis of fact and expert evidence, the variant is a true equivalent of the invention as described in the patent.

Neel Chatterjee

Patent ‘gold rush’ to blame for patent sharks, patent trolls

Posted 7 days ago

Patent trolls – as well as calls for changes to the law to prevent them – date back to at least the 1800’s. A look at their history suggests that they have more to do with fluidity in the definition of patentable subject matter than any unique feature of a particular class of inventions… A change in a fundamental definition of what comprised patentable subject matter, and that change brought a major building block of commerce into the ambit of the patent system. In the age of the sharks, the farm remained the core of the U.S. economy, driving a gold rush of new patents covering every element of the farming process. Such a rush also encourages the formation of patent thickets, as speculators scramble for any potentially protectable chunk of the market. The same phenomenon drove the development of modern tech and software patents. In the aftermath of State Street, once again the market found that the machinery that undergirded the economy was suddenly open to being patented, leading to a similar gold rush.

Amanda G. Ciccatelli

Do You Know How to Protect What’s Yours?

Posted 7 days ago

In the wake of recent judicial and legislative developments, protecting “what’s yours” has become even more complex. Many businesses and intellectual property lawyers have appropriately favored a strategy focused on obtaining patents when available to protect intellectual assets. However, in recent years there have been unprecedented changes to the American patent system… Developments in patent law have caused owners of intellectual capital to evaluate all available means for its protection including considering when appropriate the protection of innovations as trade secrets.

Robert Schaffer

Where parties dispute proper scope of claims, Board must provide an explicit claim construction

Posted 9 days ago

The Board declined to provide a construction of “settling speed” and determined that the claims were not invalid as anticipated. Homeland appealed… When parties dispute the proper scope of claims, the Board must provide an explicit claim construction. The Court may construe the claims de novo. When comparing prior art evidence to properly construed claims, the Court may disregard expert testimony if it is plainly inconsistent with the written record, even if the testimony was unrebutted.

Joseph Robinson

Board’s analysis internally inconsistent, Federal Circuit vacates inter partes reexam

Posted 9 days ago

At the Federal Circuit, Honeywell argued that the Board erred in (1) finding a motivation to combine the references with a reasonable expectation of success, (2) rejecting Honeywell’s objective evidence of patentability, and (3) relying on a new ground of rejection (Omure), without giving Honeywell notice and opportunity to respond. The Court found that the Board improperly relied on inherency to find the claims obvious and in its analysis of motivation to combine. First, the Board’s analysis was internally inconsistent. While finding that “the claimed combination’s stability/miscibility is an inherent property of HFO-123yf and cannot confer patentability, the Board also acknowledged that inherent properties must be considered if they demonstrate unexpected and nonobvious results.

Neal Solomon

Solutions for Inter Partes Review: Restoring patent rights and respect for the presumption of validity

Posted 10 days ago

In order to begin restoring patent rights and respect for the presumption of validity changes must be made to constrain the PTO post grant procedures… Patent holders that have IPRs, PGRs or CBMs instituted must be given the option to select two different claim interpretation standards. First, they can select the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) standard, which will allow claims to be amended with N auxiliary claim sets to enable the PTAB to select a preferred claim set. Second, they can select the narrower Phillips standard, applied in the U.S. District Courts, which are applied to refer to infringement analysis, by waiving the patent owner’s right to amend claims in the patent under review.

Jay S. Pattumudi

Inherent obviousness necessitates specific motivation to modify lead compound in pharma process due to surprising, unexpected results

Posted 10 days ago

Inherent obviousness cannot be based on what the inventor thought, and, in addition, the results in a particular case may not be inherently obvious depending on what was expected by a person of ordinary skill. The court pointed out “’the mere fact that a certain thing may result from a given set of circumstances is not sufficient’ to render the results inherent.” Millennium Pharmaceuticals, 2017 WL 3013204, at *6 (citations omitted by author). The court also held that it is never appropriate to consider “what the inventor intended when the experiment was performed,” even though Millennium “conceded as a matter of law that the ester is a ‘natural result’ of freeze-drying bortezomib with mannitol.” Id. Thus, hindsight reasoning should never be applied and, obviousness is “measured objectively in light of the prior art, as viewed by a person of ordinary skill in the invention.”