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The Problem with Software Patents? Uninformed Critics!

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 5, 2011 @ 3:50 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 42 comments

The problem with software patents isn’t that they are granted on obvious innovations, but rather that those who spend so much time complaining about them are just about completely clueless, at least with respect to patent law. It borders on the comical to observe some of the apoplectic rants against software patents, which almost universally conclusively prove that the person writing (or ranting) has not read past the title of the software patent in question. That is, of course, assuming they have even looked at the patent and are not merely mimicking what they have read from some other equally clueless and irresponsible critic.

WIPO: International Trademark Filings Rise 12.8% in 2010

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 5, 2011 @ 9:04 am | Written by Gene Quinn | Comments Off

International trademark activity recovered during 2010, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which received 39,687 applications under the 85-member Madrid System for the International Registration of Trademarks (“the Madrid system”). This increase in application from 2009 to 2010 represents a 12.8% rate of growth. Growth was the largest for the Republic of Korea (+42.2%), China (+42%), Italy (+38.7%), United States of America (+29.6%), European Union (+26.9%) and Japan (+20.2%).

USPTO to Begin Accepting Requests for Prioritized Examination of Patent Applications on May 4, 2011

Posted: Monday, Apr 4, 2011 @ 5:45 pm | Written by U.S.P.T.O. | 7 comments

Washington– The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today plans for the agency to begin accepting requests for prioritized examination of patent applications – allowing inventors and businesses to have their patents processed within 12 months. It currently takes nearly three years to process the average patent. The program, called Track One, launches May 4, 2011, and is part of a new Three-Track system, which will provide applicants with greater control over when their applications are examined and promote greater efficiency in the patent examination process.

Interview Part 2: USPTO Deputy Director Terry Rea

Posted: Monday, Apr 4, 2011 @ 12:31 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 1 Comment »

USPTO Deputy Director Terry Rea

I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Terry Rea for an interview in her office on the campus of the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia.  Among other things, in part 1 of my interview with the newly minted Deputy Director Rea we discussed Obama Administration interest in harmonizing patent laws, but standing firm on patent eligibility remaining very broad in the United States.  In part 2 of the interview we discuss the energizer bunny, known better as USPTO Director David Kappos.  We also discuss what skills she has brought from a private law practice that she feels will help her most at the Patent and Trademark Office.  Finally, we discussed initiatives the USPTO is pursuing to assist women entrepreneurs and the inevitable questions about where we stand with patent reform.

Unfortunately, due to a tight schedule we were not able to get to some of the familiar fun questions that give us a look at Terry Rea the person, such as favorite author, favorite movie and that sort of thing.  She has agreed to go back on the record, so that will be forthcoming at a date and time yet to be determined.

House Inter Partes Review Provisions Threaten Patent Reform

Posted: Sunday, Apr 3, 2011 @ 1:52 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 5 comments

On March 8, 2011, the United States Senate passed S. 23, the Senate version of patent reform, by an overwhelming vote of 95 to 5.  Just about three weeks later the House Judiciary Committee unveiled the House version of patent reform.  While the framework of the House bill is largely the same as the framework of the bill that achieved overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, there are some non-trivial deviations that place the likelihood of achieving patent reform squarely in doubt.  The two big ticket items being kicked around as differences that threaten the entirety of patent reform are inter partes review and prior user rights.  These two issues could cause a splintering of stakeholders and place us back in the limbo we have been in for the past 6 years, which would be tragic because Congress is finally poised to adequately fund the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

WIPO 2010 ADR Report: Cybersquatting Hits Record Level

Posted: Saturday, Apr 2, 2011 @ 1:49 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 4 comments

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently announced that the number of cybersquatting cases has reached an all time high. In 2010, trademark holders filed 2,696 cybersquatting cases relating to some 4,370 domain names with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center) under procedures based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). This spike in the number of domain name disputes caused by cybersquatting represents an increase of 28% over the 2009 level and of 16% over the previous record year, 2008.

Cybersquatting is the act of registering a popular Internet address, such as a company name or the name of a famous individual, with the intent of selling it to who the real world would perceive to be the “rightful” owner of that address or using the name to unlawfully collect traffic and do business off the name of the company or famous individual. Thanks to the Trademark Cyberpiracy Prevention Act, which was passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2000, cybersquatting is specifically prohibited by statute in the United States. The TCPA is codified primarily at 15 USC 1125(d) and 15 USC 1129(b). Notwithstanding, it continues to be a major problem, as you can see from the case filing statistics below.

Obama Administration to hold Startup America Roundtable

Posted: Saturday, Apr 2, 2011 @ 12:42 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments

As part of the White House’s Startup America initiative, on April 6, 2011, senior Obama Administration officials will visit St. Paul, Minnesota to meet with entrepreneurs and hear directly from them on ideas and suggestions for reducing barriers and improving regulations to build a more supportive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Using the input from the roundtables and broader public participation, the Obama Administration hopes to put together a list of the best ideas to streamline and simplify unnecessary barriers to America’s entrepreneurs and innovators. The Administration says these ideas will be incorporated into the agencies’ responses to the President’s Executive Order instructing federal agencies to identify and take steps to eliminate or reduce regulations that are outdated or overly burdensome to entrepreneurs.

The Key to Drafting an Excellent Patent – Alternatives

Posted: Friday, Apr 1, 2011 @ 4:15 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 6 comments

I hear all the time from inventors that they don’t understand why I want to know about various alternatives and optional features that could be a part of their invention. After all, the invention they have created is one of a kind excellent and no one in their right mind would want to change it one bit! OK — you keep thinking that if you like, but it is that thinking that leads inventors to get unnecessarily narrow patents.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a narrow patent, as long as you know that is what you are getting, but if there is more that could be available to you why would you ever settle for a narrow patent? Why would you settle for a patent that might not be narrow but which is more narrow than could have been obtained? If narrow is all that is available and you accept that, fine. But in most cases when inventors represent themselves or settle for the extreme discount patents sold online by dubious patent mills there is far more available than obtained, and that is a tragedy.

Exclusive Interview: USPTO Deputy Director Terry Rea

Posted: Thursday, Mar 31, 2011 @ 7:09 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments

USPTO Deputy Director Terry Rea

On February 17, 2011, Teresa Stanek Rea was announced as the new Deputy Director at the USPTO. Rea, who is known both inside and outside the Office as “Terry,” took the mantle of U.S. government employee with the longest title; Rea’s full title being Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Terry for an interview in her office on the campus of the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia.

Terry is no stranger to the intellectual property world. She is a former President of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), and a long time patent practitioner.  As you will read in the interview she started her legal career in 1980 and obtained her Registration No. in 1982, which has temporarily taken away given she cannot represent others now that she is Deputy Director of the USPTO.

I found Terry to be extremely knowledgeable and very easy to talk to, which should probably read that I perceive her to be a patent geek just like me. A geek in a good way, of course. Those patent attorneys and agents reading know what I mean. We so enjoy what we do and so infrequently get to talk to anyone about it with anyone who really cares, so when we do the conversation is a blast. Terry Rea has been immersed in everything patents, from prosecution to opinions to interferences and litigation, and I get the sense that she loves patents and innovation. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with her.

BIO Expresses Some Concern with House Patent Reform

Posted: Thursday, Mar 31, 2011 @ 4:03 pm | Written by Jim Greenwood | 3 comments

Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood released the following statement on the introduction of the America Invents Act, H.R. 1249, in the U.S. House of Representatives:

BIO praises House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) for his introduction of a comprehensive patent reform bill similar to the bill adopted by the U.S. Senate earlier this month by a nearly unanimous vote.

The America Invents Act is a clear improvement over prior House versions of patent reform legislation. We are pleased that the legislation will end, once and for all, the diversion of fees collected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, allowing the agency to use all of its fees to hire more examiners, reduce the backlog of pending applications, and make other improvements to its operations. We also commend the inclusion in the bill of many other reforms that will improve the patent system and enhance patent quality, including transition to a “first-to-file” system, the elimination of other subjective elements of patent law, and a new supplemental examination proceeding for use by patent owners.