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Celebrating 15 Years of

On October 10, 1999, first went live on the Internet. It has been an honor and privilege to get to know so many wonderful people in our industry over the last 15 years, to talk to many industry leaders on the record, and to in some small way continue to push the debate forward. Thanks to our readers and contributors we have been recognized as as one of the top 100 legal blogs by the American Bar Association for 5 years in a row. For 3 of the last 4 years (2010, 2012, 2013) we were recognized as the top intellectual property law blog according to the ABA. In January 2014 we were also honored to be inducted into the ABA Blawg Hall of Fame. CLICK HERE to read more.

Hot on Social Media

Over the past several months we have had a number of articles that have gotten quite a bit of attention on various social media outlets. If you haven’t read these articles yet take a look, they seem to be driving an interesting debate.

  1. Extortionist Demand Letters are Wrecking Public Confidence in the U.S. Patent System
  2. Patent Trolls are NOT the Biggest Barrier to Innovation
  3. 25 Years Since Galileo: A Recent Look at NASA Technologies
  4. Silicon Valley's Anti-Patent Propaganda: Success at What Cost?
  5. Patents are Important: Bursting the Twitter Patent Mythology
  6. Why Brands Need to Pay Attention to Unregulated Domains
  7. Post Patent Issuance Challenges and the Quest for Patent Quality
  8. If Patent Reform is Meant to Starve Patent Trolls, Why is it Feeding Them Instead?
  9. Eli Lilly Patents Treatments for HIV and Ebola Virus
  10. The Ramifications of Alice: A Conversation with Mark Lemley

Most Recent Articles on

TiVo, DISH and EchoStar, The $500 Million Patent Settlement

Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 @ 5:58 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments

Just 12 days ago the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued its ruling in TiVo v. EchoStar, largely handing TiVo a victory in the epic saga between the two satellite TV giants.  Earlier today TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO), DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH), and EchoStar Corporation (NASDAQ: SATS) announced today that they have settled all of their ongoing patent litigation. Under the terms of the settlement, DISH Network and EchoStar agreed to pay TiVo $500 million, including an initial payment of $300 million with the remaining $200 million distributed in six equal annual installments between 2012 and 2017. TiVo, DISH Network and EchoStar agreed to dismiss all pending litigation between the companies with prejudice and to dissolve all injunctions against DISH Network and EchoStar.

The parties also granted certain patent licenses to each other. TiVo granted DISH Network a license under its Time Warp patent (US Patent No. 6,233,389) and certain related patents, for the remaining life of those patents. TiVo also granted EchoStar a license under the same ‘389 patent and certain related patents, for the remaining life of those patents, to design and make certain DVR-enabled products solely for DISH Network and two international customers. EchoStar granted TiVo a license under certain DVR-related patents for TiVo-branded, co-branded and ingredient-branded products.

The Google Book Settlement and Orphan Works

Posted: Sunday, May 1, 2011 @ 10:52 pm | Written by Beth Hutchens | 3 comments

‘Membah that scene in “The Time Machine” when George tries to read about the Eloi only to discover that the books have all turned to dust?   That would be bad, at least according to Google, so in the interest of über profits -ahem- literary preservation, it is endeavoring to create the world’s first digital library.  Thanks, Google!  As it turns out, there are some pesky copyright issues they probably should have sorted out first.   Among them is what to do with an orphan work.  In copyright law, the concept of orphan works is kind of obscure and doesn’t come up a lot, but I have a feeling it will be a bit more prevalent as we shift from print to digital media.  Long story short, an orphan work is a work that still has copyright protection, but for whatever reason, the owner can’t or won’t be found.  Congress had the opportunity to address this situation back in 2008, but they didn’t.   So now we have a bit of a pickle.

James Donald Smith Named Chief Patent Judge at USPTO

Posted: Friday, Apr 29, 2011 @ 4:08 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | Comments Off

Washington – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has appointed James Donald Smith of Chicago, Ill. to serve as the next Chief Administrative Patent Judge of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As BPAI Chief Judge, Smith will lead the board that hears and adjudicates patent appeals from decisions of patent examiners. Smith begins serving as Chief Judge on May 8, 2011.

Smith currently serves as Associate General and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Illinois-based healthcare company, Baxter International, where he oversees its global patent, trademark and copyright affairs. He replaces Michael Fleming, the former Chief Judge who retired in the fall of 2010.

US, Europe Debate Embryonic Stem Cell Patents and Research

Posted: Friday, Apr 29, 2011 @ 1:12 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 3 comments

Earlier today the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated the preliminary injunction issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia preventing the federal government from funding stem cell research.  The case — Sherley v. Sebelius — deals with whether federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is legal. The District Court decided in August 2010 that Congress prevented such funding and the lifting of the Bush ban by President Obama was immaterial.  See District Court Injunction Opinion.  In the decision on appeal, the Court of Appeals disagreed, concluding “the plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail because Dickey-Wicker is ambiguous and the NIH seems reasonably to have concluded that, although Dickey-Wicker bars funding for the destructive act of deriving an [embryonic stem cell] from an embryo, it does not prohibit funding a research project in which an [embryonic stem cell] will be used.”

Meanwhile, the patenting of stem cells is currently under attack in Europe.

Patents, the Lifeblood of Innovation

Posted: Thursday, Apr 28, 2011 @ 5:49 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 20 comments

Gene Quinn, at University of New Mexico, April 21, 2011

Patents are indeed the lifeblood of innovation. Of course, without innovation nothing else happens, or matters, but there is definitely a symbiotic relationship between innovation and patents. The innovation that we say we most want is that innovation that is cutting edge, not just an improvement upon what already exists; paradigm shifting innovation or technologies that could be characterized as disruptive in nature. It is with paradigm shifting, disruptive innovation that we see leaps forward. Those leaps forward lead to the formation of new start-up companies and frequently to the birth of entire new industries. It is with this type of highly desirable innovation that we see enormous job growth, which the U.S. economy could use right about now. Unfortunately, this type of innovation does not come cheap.

USPTO Initiative: The Future of Clean, Green Technologies

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011 @ 9:43 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments

Bruce Kisliuk, Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Patents (USPTO), asking how many examiners were attending; easily 75% were examiners.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office held the first ever Cleantech Partnership Initiative meeting today in the Madison Building on the campus of the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia.  What is a “partnership initiative”?  The Patent and Trademark Office has had these types of “partnerships” in other areas, such as in the biotechnology area, for some time.  They are intended to provide a forum where industry can share concerns and information, including both patenting–related aspects and technology-related aspects.  They are also for establishing contacts for technical training programs for examiners and helping applicants better understand the Patent Office. The goal is to hopefully lead to better filed and prosecuted applications and better issued patents. The focus of this partnership initiative is Clean Technologies, which Bruce Kisliuk (Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Patents) pointed out was in keeping with the Obama Administration desire to foster clean, green tech.

Moving Forward Responsibly with Your Invention Idea

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011 @ 11:16 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments

I am frequently asked the same or similar question with respect to patent applications by independent inventors — How much information do I have to include in a patent application?  Sometimes this question is prefaced by something like — I have the concept but I am no scientist and I don’t know how to actually create the invention.  Other times still it will be — I have this great idea, what do I do?

The first thing to understand is that to be an inventor you need to have an invention.  This is a critical starting point because you cannot patent or protect an idea or a concept.  True, all inventions start with an idea, but an idea is not something that can be protected by any form of intellectual property protection.  Said another way, you simply cannot patent an idea or concept.  You also cannot copyright or trademark an idea or concept, but those are topics for another day.

Apple Patents Method of Dealing with “Sloppy Taps”

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011 @ 10:26 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 3 comments

Did you ever think you would read a patent related article with “sloppy taps” in the title?  Probably not!  And dealing with “sloppy taps”?  Surely dealing with “sloppy taps” would seem more appropriate for a medical device company, pharmaceutical company or maybe a biotechnology firm, but Apple?

The term “sloppy taps” could make a great name for a race horse, particularly one that thrives on running in the mud, or more accurately on a track where there is standing water, which is the true definition of a “sloppy track.”  But what Apple refers to as a “sloppy tap” is a control finger motion used to produce a tapping motion on a touch screen that incorporates a sliding motion.  How are you to tell whether a tap was intended or a slide was intended?  Luckily, Apple has come up with a method of deciphering sloppy taps, and was awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,932,896 on April 26, 2011.

USPTO to Revise Reexam Practice, Is Patent Reform Dead?

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 26, 2011 @ 8:08 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 9 comments

USPTO Headquarters, Alexandria, Virginia

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking public comment on a proposal to streamline the procedures governing ex parte and inter partes patent reexamination proceedings. The timing of this announcement, which appeared in the Federal Register on April 25, 2011, seems curious to me. With patent reform circulating in the House of Representatives does this signal a belief that on the part of the Patent Office that patent reform is dead?  The patent reform passed by the Senate and that being considered by the House has revised post-grant review proceedings, so wouldn’t it be wise to wait to revamp reexamination until after patent reform passes, that is if it seems likely to pass?

Ranting on Congress: Not a Happy World IP Day in the US

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 26, 2011 @ 3:17 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 11 comments

UPDATED: 3:33pm Eastern Time

Happy World Intellectual Property Day! What, you didn’t buy a card or make dinner reservations? Did World Intellectual Property Day sneak up on you again this year? How could you let that happen? At a time when the United States Congress seems hell bent on destroying the patent system by inadequately funding the United States Patent and Trademark Office we really should celebrate something that seems to be functioning, so why not celebrate the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the innovation policies of nations who are stealing research and development away from the United States? What a tragedy that the World has better innovation policies than the United States.