Guest Contributors


Eli Mazour

Dissecting Dissents for Ex Parte Appeals

Posted 14 days ago

Dissent is not the highest form of judgment for judges on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  As discussed in further detail below, our own analysis indicates that dissents for ex parte appeals are found in about .5% of decisions issued by the PTAB.  A PTAB judge deciding an ex parte appeal is more than ten times less likely to dissent than a Federal Circuit (CAFC) judge. Relying on internal USPTO policies and former PTAB judges’ personal experiences, a recent spate of commentary has provided different explanations regarding the rarity of dissents for ex parte appeals.  We were still left wondering why some judges go out of their way to write dissents.  In an effort to better understand this issue and what the dissents might reveal about the ex parte appeal process in general, we conducted a statistical analysis of dissents in recent ex parte appeal decisions.

Nick Aries

Is Europe really (*still*) moving away from protecting platforms and internet intermediaries?

Posted 14 days ago

This time last year, the combination of the Commission’s September 2017 Communication and the proposed Article 13 of the draft Copyright Directive led some to conclude that Europe was indeed moving away from protecting internet intermediaries. Although the Communication has been backed up by the March 2018 Commission Recommendation (with its focus on terrorist content), whether Article 13 is ever enacted and in what form is still to be decided. Meanwhile, we await answers from the CJEU regarding the permissible subject-matter breadth and territorial width of injunctions made against intermediaries, and will keep an eye out for legislative action from the Commission following from its Recommendation earlier this year.

Burman York (Bud) Mathis III

At Age 46, it’s Time to Retire Benson

Posted 16 days ago

contrary to popular notion, U.S. Patent No. 4,344,142 to James Diehr was not the first attempt to patent the idea of performing a real-time simulation of the Arrhenius equation using periodic temperature measurements of a rubber mold in order to cure rubber.  In fact, nearly two years prior to Diehr’s filing, Thomas Smith filed for a device that performed the very same algorithm using dedicated logic, which was granted as U.S. Patent No. 3,819,915. Smith was also granted U.S. Patent No. 4,022,555 for another rubber-curing device based on discrete logic. Similarly, William Claxton filed for patent protection in 1974 for an Arrhenius-based rubber-curing device using analog components, which issued as U.S. Patent No. 4,044,600.  

Burman York (Bud) Mathis III

The Federal Circuit’s Hidden Agenda

Posted 18 days ago

One might naturally expect that, if a rejection under § 101 appealed from the PTAB failed to address all the claim limitations and had zero supporting evidence to determine whether something was abstract or well-understood, routine and conventional, the case would be a slam-dunk at the Federal Circuit.  After all, according to Supreme Court and Federal Circuit precedent, the Federal Circuit would be “powerless to affirm the administrative action by substituting what it considers to be a more adequate or proper basis.” Unfortunately though, nothing could be farther from the truth as is demonstrated by the Federal Circuit’s recent decision of In re Villena, Appeal No. 2017-2069 (August 29, 2018) where, as is proved by the joint appendix, the examiner failed to address each and every claim limitation separately, to address the claim limitations as a whole, ordered combination, and to provide any evidence whatsoever to support his factual assertions.

Mark Peroff

Preventing a Graffiti Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Posted 19 days ago

Filming and photographing in public venues – parks, streets, subway stations – for ads, TV spots and social media videos can produce exciting, creative results for advertising campaigns, but companies advertising should be careful when using shots featuring graffiti in the background. It may be protected by copyright law. Even if the graffiti has not been lawfully created, but rather produced in an act of vandalism or trespass, the artist could raise a copyright infringement claim that could lead to a lawsuit.

Dr. Dariush Adli

EP’s Louboutin Decision Opens the Door for U.S. Businesses to Protect Their Color/Shape Brands in Europe

Posted 20 days ago

The issue faced by the EU High Court was whether shape and color of Louboutin’s mark could be separated under the circumstances; i.e., whether color applied to the sole of a high-heeled shoe is essentially a “shape” mark within the meaning of the EU trademark law. The EU High Court found in favor of Louboutin, pointing out that Louboutin did not seek to protect a particular shape, but the application of a color to a specific part of a high heeled shoe. 

Burman York (Bud) Mathis III

The Death of Invention

Posted 20 days ago

George Santayana is attributed with the aphorism: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is modern § 101 in a nutshell. Every horror we in the patent community are now experiencing under Alice/Mayo isn’t new, but a repeat of a drama played out long ago… Every great horror story has a monster… In the patent world, the monster is “invention.”

Paul Morinville

A Decade Of US Patent Reform Must Be Undone

Posted 21 days ago

How ironic is it that the infringer lobby – the very people trying to weaken the patent system and who ignore the patent rights of others through a free riding scheme of efficient infringement – are the ones who are seeing their monopoly power consolidated. By ignoring the property of true innovators the infringer lobby has grown in size, power, strength and influence.  Profits are soaring in Silicon Valley, yet they claim patent trolls are killing high tech. That claim is simply not credible. Stop and think about that for even half a second in an objective way and the claims don’t stand up to any level of scrutiny. In 2017, Apple had nearly $50 billion in net income, Microsoft has over $20 billion in net income, Facebook over $15 billion, Goggle approximately $13 billion. If patent trolls are killing, or even attempting to kill the tech elite of Silicon Valley we all ought to be able to agree they are doing a very poor job.

Gene Luoma

A Personal Plea From the Zip-It Inventor to Support the Inventor Protection Act

Posted 22 days ago

Cobra Products filed a lawsuit for patent infringement. G.T. Water then filed for a re-examination of my patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate my patent claims. My licensing agreement with Cobra and BrassCraft was to share equally in the cost of defending my patent. However, Cobra Products elected not to help me in the defense of my patent at the USPTO. I was forced to bear the total cost of that alone. After seven years of validity proceedings, which have cost more than $250,000, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has invalidated all 12 of my claims covering the Zip-It. How can the USPTO issue a patent with 12 claims and then use the PTAB to neuter my patent? Since this has been going back and forth with the court system, there are now numerous other entities which have engaged in copying and infringing my patented invention.

John M. Rogitz

Fall Line Asserts Seemingly Invalid Patent Against a Host of Major Companies

Posted 24 days ago

On August 15, 2018, Fall Line Patents, LLC asserted U.S. Patent No. 9,454,748 against a number of companies. Specifically, Fall Line alleged in nine separate lawsuits that the mobile applications provided by AMC Entertainment, McDonald’s, Boston Market, Panda Express, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Regal Cinemas, Starbucks, and Zoe’s Kitchen directly infringe at least Claim 1 of the ‘748 patent. All of the lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Texas and request permanent injunctions as well as damages.

Katharine Wolanyk

Using Legal Finance to Unlock University IP Assets

Posted 27 days ago

Litigation finance in the university context is thus particularly valuable. Even for smaller matters, litigation finance shifts spend off the university’s balance sheet, allowing it to put its own capital to use in its primary endeavors: Education and innovation. For larger matters, litigation finance shifts risk from the university—which, despite its diverse technology portfolio, may have only a small number of claims with attractive litigation prospects—to an entity with a much larger book of diversified risk across uncorrelated claimants.

Russell Slifer

The Updated PTAB Trial Practice Guide – Not Quite There Yet

Posted 29 days ago

While the changes to the Trial Practice Guide begin to move the rules in the right direction, more is needed before post-grant proceedings will be accepted as neutral to all parties.  The PTAB should endeavor to adopt the time-honored burdens, presumptions and procedures used in the district courts for trying patent cases whenever reasonably possible.  Petitioners should be required to prove that the art upon which they rely is not cumulative to that previously before the USPTO, a patent owner’s Preliminary Response presenting evidence raising genuine issues of material fact should be treated as it would be if presented in opposition to a summary judgment motion brought in the courts, and the presiding panel should determine witness credibility by hearing testimony and cross examination live.

Trevor Day

Investing in Inventing: A Patent Process Primer for Startups

Posted 1 month ago

The patent process is long and complex, but well worth the effort if it means protecting your invention and your new company. Key decisions made along the way can help simplify future steps in the process and make obtaining a patent significantly more efficient. Early on, determining a patent scope through patentability searches can help narrow a patent application to the important novel aspects that are most worthwhile to protect. Similarly, preparing a thorough provisional application can make the non-provisional application preparation much simpler and afford better protection against later published works or filings by others. By thinking about these key decisions ahead of time and being aware of the patent process, you can be more prepared when the time comes to seek protection for your invention.

Burman York (Bud) Mathis III

Judge Taranto, Meet Judge Taranto

Posted 1 month ago

Contrary to Judge Taranto’s position, not only does the McRO claim not produce a physical improvement to a display (contrast In re Allapat), but as can be seen above a display is not even recited in the McRO claim.  Judge Taranto’s position is as best an assertion that a physical display somehow works better because of the content displayed is subjectively more appealing.  However, a colorized version of The Maltese Falcon does not improve the intrinsic qualities of a generic display.  Similarly, the intrinsic qualities of a Kindle reader are not improved based on the quality of an author’s style of writing.

Joseph Allen

Compulsory Licensing for Medicare Drugs– Another Bad Idea from Capitol Hill

Posted 1 month ago

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) recently introduced the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act of 2018. Lest the title confuse you, by “competitive licensing” Rep. Doggett means compulsory licensing anytime a company declines to sell their drug for whatever price the Secretary of Health and Human Services  cares to offer during “Medicare negotiations” where the government holds all the cards. Past attempts to impose artificial “reasonable pricing” requirements on developers of government supported inventions did not result in cheaper drugs. A study titled Compulsory Licensing Often Did Not Produce Lower Prices For Antiretrovirals Compared to International Procurement found that resulting drug prices were often higher than they would have been under a more cooperative approach.

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