The USPTO announces two public hearings in March 2014 to receive feedback about proposed rules concerning the ownership of patents and applications (aka “attributable ownership proposed rules”). The public is invited to attend the hearings in person or via Webcast. Additionally, the public is invited to give testimony in person at the hearings and/or to submit written comments about the proposed rules. The deadline for requesting to give testimony has been extended to Wednesday, March 12, 2014, and the deadline for submitting written comments has been extended until Thursday, April 24, 2014.
The attributable ownership proposed rules require that the attributable owner, including the ultimate parent entity, be identified during the pendency of a patent application and at specified times during the life of a patent. More details about the attributable ownership proposed rules are available here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-01-24/pdf/2014-01195.pdf
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking to hire patent examiners for the Denver Satellite Office. There are openings currently for patent examiners with a computer engineering background, patent examiners with an electrical engineering background and patent examiners with a mechanical engineering background. For more information see USAjobs.gov.
On Friday March 7, 2014 and Saturday March 8, 2014, the USPTO will host a career fair at the Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center downtown at 650 15th Street. The Office will hold ongoing information sessions and then meet with individuals who meet the basic Patent Examiner position requirements. Those who qualify will be encouraged to apply via USAJobs. Candidates cannot be officially considered for open positions without submitting a complete application.
Those wishing to attend the March 7 or March 8 career fair should register in advance because space is limited, particularly for the direct informational meetings with USPTO personnel. Walk-ins will be allowed to participate if space is available. To register CLICK HERE.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that it will host a public forum to discuss the first-inventor-to-file (FITF) provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA). The forum marks the first anniversary of the implementation of FITF, and will be held on March 17, 2014, at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee, along with experts from the offices of the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy and the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations, will participate in the event.
The public meeting will serve as an opportunity for USPTO subject matter experts and stakeholders to discuss the FITF provisions and updates since its implementation. The forum will begin with an informal meet-and-greet session, followed by remarks and a question and answer session with USPTO experts. Topics to be discussed include FITF statistics to date, how to know whether an application will be examined under FITF or not, and the exception provisions of the FITF statutory framework. The experts will present a variety of example scenarios to illustrate the FITF provisions.
Last week the Obama Administration announced a series of new Executive Actions and updated the industry on progress relating to previous Executive Actions relative to the patent system. See White House Announces Patent Related Executive Action. One of the line items in this announcement related to the creation of a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on USPTO.gov. Essentially, the White House announced the launch of what they refer to as an “online toolkit” aimed at answering common questions and providing information about patent lawsuits. The aim of this section of USPTO.gov is apparently to help consumers understand the risks and benefits of litigation or settlement so they can pick their best course of action.
Several things jump out at you when you visit this section of USPTO.gov, which is labeled as a BETA. First, although the section of the website falls under “litigation” and is found at uspto.gov/patents/litigation, all of the information is aimed at accused infringers, giving them advice about what they can and should do. Nowhere do I see any information or links to helpful resources that would be useful for the many hundreds of thousands of patent owners who routinely have their rights infringed, sometimes willfully. No, this “help section” is purely intended to provide help to those accused of infringement as if they are all victims.
It is almost incomprehensible that the Patent Office would put together a litigation resource that ignores the reality that many companies, both large and small, trample on the rights of innovators who have spent large amounts of time, money and energy to receive a patent and disclosing their innovation to the world. Indeed, the inconvenient truth is that many innovators simply do not have the resources to enforce their legitimately obtained and examined patents. Many of those innovators make up the backbone of the U.S. economy and in large part embody the American Dream. Yet, the Patent Office only offers a one-sided help section that gives advice to infringers and sets a tone that comes across as anti-patent and anti-patent owner. This strikes me as fundamentally misguided and clearly demonstrates the anti-patent bias of the Obama Administration.
During the State of the Union address to Congress in January 2014, President Obama called for passage of a patent reform bill that would allow businesses to stay focused on innovation, not litigation. Today, in what was billed as part of the “Year of Action: Making Progress Through Executive Action,” the Obama Administration highlighted progress made on previously announced executive actions, and also announced three new actions to further respond to the President’s desire to increase patent quality.
Currently the President is under fire for Executive Actions, which is something that he railed against when he was Presidential Candidate Obama in 2008, but increasingly embraces. The criticism of the President with respect to Executive Action has heretofore been related to the fact that through executive fiat the President has single handedly re-written laws passed by Congress. Of course, there is no Constitutional authority for the President to re-write laws, but that hasn’t stopped him, at least with respect to the health care law.
No such re-writing of law seems to be implicated in the Executive Actions announced today relative to the patent system. In fact, the Executive Actions on the patent front are largely much ado about nothing and seem most intended to grab headlines. Still, there are a few items that make perfect sense, such as the USPTO working with industry to train patent examiners on cutting edge scientific developments and an expansion of the pro bono program. Still, other initiatives claim to address patent quality but I can’t for the life of me understand how that could be possible. How accurate ownership records kept after the issuance of a patent will help patent quality is a mystery to me, and unexplained by the White House.
The USPTO will perform maintenance on the Electronic System for Trademarks Trials and Appeals (ESTTA) and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board Inquiry System (TTABVUE) beginning at 12:01 a.m. and ending at 6 a.m., Saturday, February 15. ESTTA, and TTABVUE will be unavailable during the maintenance period.
Additionally, the USPTO will perform system maintenance on the Trademark Electronic Application System International (TEASi) beginning at noon on Saturday, February 15 and ending at noon on Sunday, February 16. TEASi will be unavailable during the maintenance period.
Starting on September 16, 2012, on the first anniversary of the signing of the America Invents Act, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) was born. The jurisdiction of the PTAB is greatly expanded compared to the previous Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI). Most specifically, the PTAB now conducts trials within the patent office. These trials are required by the new procedures ushered in by the AIA, namely Inter Partes Review (IPR), Post-Grant Review (PGR) and Covered Business Method (CBM) Review. These three new flavors of patent challenge allow a petitioner to challenge the propriety of one or more patent claims once they have been granted by the Patent Office.
As the chart created by the USPTO below shows, Inter Partes Review is gaining in popularity since it first became available on September 16, 2012. While Post Grant Review cannot be filed unless the challenge is against a patent that issued under the new first to file rules that went into effect on March 16, 2013, an IPR can be filed to challenge any patent issued on, before or after September 16, 2012.
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