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Inventing 101: Protecting Your Invention When You Need Help

Posted: Friday, Sep 17, 2010 @ 7:35 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 5 comments

I am frequently asked a version of the same question by inventors, which goes something like this: “I have an idea but I am unable to do it myself.  I am going to need some help.  What should I do to make sure I am protected?”

Patent attorneys and agents reading will likely start to immediately say that ideas cannot be patented and it doesn’t sound like you have anything that could be protected.  I too have explained that to many inventors of the years and written about that very topic (see Protecting Ideas and Moving from Idea to Patent).  But with this presentation there is no way to know yet whether there is an invention lurking there or whether the individual has merely a raw idea without any knowledge about how to bring it into being.  Thus, this question begs the essential inquiry, which is this: At what point does an idea take enough form to be considered an invention that can be protected?

Todd Dickinson Interview Part 3: Fee Diversion, Kappos, 3 Track

Posted: Thursday, Sep 16, 2010 @ 12:50 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 3 comments

Todd Dickinson discussed Three Track at USPTO on 7/20/10

My interview with Q. Todd Dickinson, the current Executive Director of the AIPLA and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the Patent and Trademark Office, took place on August 19, 2010, in a conference room at AIPLA headquarters. In part 1 of the interview we learned about Dickinson’s background and early career that eventually found him Director of the USPTO, the American Inventors Protection Act and his philosophical approach toward allowing patent applications. In part 2 of the interview we discussed average pendency and ways to bring it down, as well as a detailed discussion about patent reform, which Dickinson told me was not dead, and which has turned out to be prophetic indeed. See Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge Action on Patent Reform.  In this final installment of the interview we discuss how current USPTO Director David Kappos is doing, whether his honeymoon period will ever end, whether there is any concern he will burn-out, and we discuss the AIPLA position on Three Track, plus the usual fun questions at the end.

Biotechnology Industry Announces New Initiative to Improve U.S. Science Education

Posted: Thursday, Sep 16, 2010 @ 12:08 pm | Written by Press Releases | Comments Off

Arlington, VA (September 16, 2010) – Biotechnology industry leaders announced today a major new program to improve the quality of U.S. life science education. The Biotechnology Institute’s new “Scientists in the Classroom” initiative is the life science industry’s response to President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve the performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The announcement came as life science industry executives participated in a White House event announcing the creation of the new broad education coalition called “Change the Equation” comprised of CEOs from across a broad spectrum of industries.

Bipartisan Group Of Senators Urge Action On Patent Reform

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 15, 2010 @ 10:04 pm | Written by Press Releases | 15 comments

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010) – A bipartisan group of 25 Senators Wednesday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urging him to schedule a vote on the bipartisan Patent Reform Act. The legislation will make the first reforms to the nation’s patent laws in more than 55 years, and will update the patent system to improve patent quality and increase certainty among parties in litigation.

Patent Office Disciplinary Actions and the Lack Thereof

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 15, 2010 @ 4:07 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 10 comments

Two years ago today the United States Patent and Trademark Office made effective a rule change that should have once and for all put an end to those who engage in the unauthorized practice of law in the patent and trademark field.  Unfortunately, to date the Office of Enrollment and Discipline done nothing whatsoever to enforce Rule 11.5, and in fact I have been repeatedly told by sources that the USPTO is of the belief that they cannot prevent someone who is not registered from practicing either on the patent or the trademark side of the building.  This is practically unbelievable.  Rule 11.5 (b) was specifically intended to force initial contact between an applicant and an attorney and prevent a middleman or entity from collecting the work, interfacing with an inventor and then handing off to a registered practitioner.  It also prevents those who are not registered from preparing any documents in contemplation of filing, but that is exactly what is happening.  All one has to do is a basic Internet search or turn on XM radio or cable TV to see the many advertisements from non-registered individuals and entities.  Something needs to be done.

Judge Dyk Suggests En Banc Review of CAFC Preamble Law

Posted: Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010 @ 6:54 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 7 comments

Yesterday the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion in American Medical Systems, Inc. v. Biolitec, Inc. The decision dealt with the scintillating topic of whether a term in the preamble of the claim is limiting.  The district court determined it was, and so did the dissenting Judge on the panel, Judge Dyk.  The majority of the panel (Judges Bryson and Prost), however, determined it was not limiting, and I think correctly reached that decision.  What is of particular interest, however, is the fact that Judge Dyk in dissent came out and said that it was time for the Federal Circuit to en banc decide the appropriate standard for when the preamble is limiting because any fair reading of Federal Circuit “preamble jurisprudence” is difficult to reconcile.  While I disagree with Judge Dyk on this case, I am all for settling of the law and in areas where there are conflicting panel decisions, which is pretty much everywhere.  The Federal Circuit should aspire to certainty wherever possible.  After all, that was why the Court was formed in the first place.

Unprecedented T-Cell Immune Responses in Human Trial of DNA Vaccine for Cervical Dysplasia and Cancer Caused by HPV

Posted: Monday, Sep 13, 2010 @ 6:07 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 1 Comment »

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE Amex: INO), a leader in the development of therapeutic and preventive vaccines against cancers and infectious diseases, announced today that it has achieved best-in-class immune responses in its Phase I dose escalation study of VGX-3100, its DNA vaccine to treat pre-cancerous cervical dysplasias and cervical cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18. This is a particularly exciting development because HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer incidence.  While success in Phase I is critical, there are substantial hurdles to overcome yet before this vaccine could reach the market.  Nevertheless, such a promising cancer vaccine ought to be heralded by everyone, right?  Think again!  Inovio actually has the audacity to have patents on its ground breaking innovation, which will lead the anti-patent non-thinkers to be more concerned with blowing up the patent system than rooting on Inovio and others as they attempt to eradicate cancer.  Absolutely ridiculous if you ask me!

Federal Circuit: Foreign Application Not Priority in Interference When it Only “Envisions” Invention

Posted: Monday, Sep 13, 2010 @ 4:58 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 4 comments

Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a ruling in Goeddel v. Sugano, which might be one of a dying breed should patent reform actually pass.  The case dealt with an appeal from an interference proceeding where the Board awarded priority based on a Japanese application.  The Federal Circuit, per Judge Newman, explained that it was inappropriate to say that the Japanese application demonstrated a constructive reduction to practice because the application merely would allow the skilled reader to “envision” the invention covered in the interference count.  If patent reform passes (and yes that could really happen) cases like Goeddel would become a thing of the past, although priority determinations like this one in Goeddel will certainly not go away.

Todd Dickinson Interview Part 2: Patent Reform is Not Dead

Posted: Sunday, Sep 12, 2010 @ 5:16 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 38 comments

Todd Dickinson, AIPLA Executive Director, 8/19/10

In this second installment of my interview with current AIPLA Executive Director and former USPTO Director, Q. Todd Dickinson, we start out discussing pendency at the Patent Office.  Dickinson tells me about the incentives he used to keep patent examiners as they matured into the level of experience where they are ready to really roll up their sleeves and become the work-horses the Office needs.  We talk about the AIPLA position on the proposed Three Track Proposal now pending at the USPTO.  We then moved into a very interesting discussion of patent reform, and a bombshell is dropped, at least in my opinion.  I was surprised to hear Dickinson say that he does not think patent reform is dead for THIS legislative cycle.  He says: “The clock’s running and, the plays have to be run a little faster,” but that he “can see a path forward once the Congress returns.”  He goes on to point out that the American Inventors Protection Act was attached to an appropriations bill.  Looking at what Congress has on its plate upon returning it looks like there are a lot of appropriations bills.  Curious indeed!

News, Notes & Announcements

Posted: Saturday, Sep 11, 2010 @ 2:47 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 4 comments

Occasionally I come across some news that I wish I had time to write about, and frequently any more I am asked to help spread the word on a variety of topics relating to the intellectual property industry.  With that in mind, what appears below are some random things that many would likely we interested in knowing about.

In this edition of News, Notes & Announcements, patent attorneys asked to participate in an inequitable conduct study, BIO seeks session proposals for 2011 Convention, Huffington Post and other popular press starting to report that patent backlog is costing jobs, the Second Circuit refuses en banc rehearing in reverse patent payments case and PLI sponsoring yours truly on a speaking tour.

Absurd WSJ Article Suggests Argues for Slower Patent Process

Posted: Friday, Sep 10, 2010 @ 6:50 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 47 comments

On Wednesday, September 8, 2010, the Wall Street Journal published commentary titled Want to Create Jobs? Certainly Don’t Rely on the USPTO, which was an attempted rebuttal of the NY Times op-ed written by Chief Judge Paul Michel and Tessera CEO Hank Nothhaft, which was titled Inventing Our Way Out of Joblessness. I say that it was an attempted rebuttal because simply stated the article was embarrassingly incorrect about virtually everything it stated as fact, and provably so. The fact that the Wall Street Journal published such complete and utter nonsense, which could have been proven to be factually incorrect had anyone even read the study relied upon by the authors, is quite sad.  Those who don’t believe innovation leads to job creation have their heads firmly implanted in the sand and simply must choose to ignore history, which proves otherwise.

The Information Needed to Avoid Writing Bad Software Patents

Posted: Thursday, Sep 9, 2010 @ 3:33 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 122 comments

Software is now and will remain patentable in the United States. Software patents have been vilified by many, but they have been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and upheld in federal courts across the United States. The much anticipated Bilski v. Kappos decision at the Supreme Court did nothing to slow down the patentability of software, and in fact even the original Federal Circuit decision wound up, as applied by the USPTO, to make it more likely that adequately written software patent applications would be granted and transformed into issued patents. What has changed over the last several years, however, is the amount of detail that must go into a software patent application in order to satisfy the adequate description requirements under US patent law. So don’t listen to anyone who tells you software cannot be patents in the United States; it certainly can, but it isn’t quite as easy as it used to be.