The Patent Cooperation Treaty, or the PCT as it is typically referred to, came into existence in 1970, and has been subsequently several times. It is open to States party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883). The Treaty, which like any other Treaty is a legal agreement entered into between various countries. The purpose of the PCT is to streamline the initial filing process, making it easier and initially cheaper to file a patent application in a large number of countries. By filing through the PCT process you can embark on the path to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in every country that is a member to the Treaty. You accomplish this by filing an “international patent application.” Indeed, the term PCT is largely synonymous with “international patent application.” So you will sometimes hear people talk of filing an international patent application or a PCT application.
An international patent application may be filed by anyone who is a national or resident of a Member Country. A Member Country, also referred to sometimes as Contracting States, are simply those countries that are members to the international Treaty. In PCT speak, which can sometimes seem to be a language all to its own, those countries that have ratified the Patent Cooperation Treaty are referred to as Member Countries or Contracting States.
Commissioner for Patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Robert L. Stoll (right) has announced his intention to retire from the agency effective December 31, 2011. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos has announced that he will nominate current Deputy Commissioner for Patents Margaret “Peggy” Focarino (left) to the position of Commissioner for Patents once Commissioner Stoll’s resignation becomes effective.
It seems that no matter where you go these days, the likelihood is high that you will see a “Free Wi-Fi” sticker on the front door of the establishment. Whether you are going for coffee, meeting a colleague for lunch, stopping at a rest stop or waiting for an airplane, you can pretty much bet that you will be able to check your email and surf the web while you are there. But providing customers with free Internet access is just the beginning. Some of the world’s most well known brands are aggressively using social media as a marketing tool.
Many of the largest and most recognizable restaurant brands are starting to realize the power and potential of social media, not only for the use of their clientele but also in getting their message out in new and innovative ways. They have begun to realize that building larger online communities equates to higher numbers of restaurant sales. For this reason, media outlet Nation’s Restaurant News teamed up with an analytics and digital branding firm, DigitalCoCo to create the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI) highlighting the industry’s Top 100 each quarter.
Earlier today U.S. News & World Report published its Best Lawyers list for 2011-2012. The rankings broke firms into 75 national practice areas, and for the first time ever identified the “Firm of the Year” in each of those practice areas.
There was little information revealed relating to how U.S. News & World Report evaluated firms and settled upon its various lists. The blog post announcing the list simply said that “topics of evaluation were a firm’s expertise, responsiveness, cost-effectiveness, and civility, and whether it deserved to be recommended for work.”
Of course, these lists never give any love to the small or mid-size firms that provide high quality legal work at a reasonable cost to clients. But that is only one of the things that will raise some eyebrows. U.S. News included Howrey LLP in the top tier for intellectual property litigation, but the firm dissolved on March 15, 2011, hardly 10 weeks into 2011. So how exactly does that qualify Howrey, a firm that no longer exists, for top tier ranking? That alone will cause some to scratch their heads and wonder exactly what U.S. New was thinking.
Earlier today the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided not grant a petition for en banc rehearing in Retractable Technologies Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson and Company. See Order and dissents. While a failure to order rehearing en banc is typically not newsworthy, this one was because there were two separate and passionate dissents. Judge Moore wrote the first dissent and was joined by Chief Judge Rader (who was on the original panel along with Judge Lourie and Judge Plager). The second dissent was written by Judge O’Malley. Both dissents make compelling cases for this case to have been reheard en banc to once and for all address the split among the Federal Circuit relative to claim interpretation.
Judge Moore started her dissent by saying: “Claim construction is the single most important event in the course of a patent litigation.” She would then go on to explain what we all know to be true: “claim construction appeals are “panel dependent” which leads to frustrating and unpredictable results for both the litigants and the trial court.” Bravo to Judge Moore for saying what patent attorneys whisper to each other at cocktail parties out of earshot of one or another Federal Circuit Judge.
Despite the protestations of some, software is patentable in in the United States. There are some jurisdictions that do not allow for the patenting of software or computer implemented processes, but the law in the United States allows for software to be patented.
Given the software patents are my business, one of the questions I typically receive from an inventor is: What software can be patented? How does one know that what they have is something that can be protected? The short answer is this: In my experience those who come to me before they start coding always have something that can be patented. Of course we have to do a search and seek out the available space, but there are some many twists and turns that there is almost always something patentable. Unfortunately, some do the programming first and never approach the design as an engineering problem for which they have a unique solution. That means no attempt has been made to identify the unique characteristics so what is programmed is many times virtually identical to the prior art. It doesn’t have to be that way though.
It is one again time to take pause and try and have a little bit of fun patent style. From time to time I like to profile specific patents, so what better way to kill two birds with one stone than to look for holiday themed patents? OK, maybe not your particular cup of tea, but work with me here and get into the spirit (pun intended).
Today is Halloween, as if you didn’t already know or figure out. Wikipedia explains: “Halloween (or Hallowe’en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, which commonly includes activities such as trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.”
The holiday patent du jour gives us the opportunity to explore the candy collecting aspects of trick-or-treating. More specifically, U.S. Patent No. 7,594,669 is for a portable container having wheels and a handle. What makes it worthy note on Halloween is that the container itself is either a pumpkin, witch, ghost, goblin, monster, vampire or werewolf. And yes, that is required in the broadest claim, claim 1. The pictures in the patent show a jack-o’-lantern version of the invention.
There are two free webinars this week relative to the America Invents Act to alert you to. Given the enormity of the changes and how every time I read the legislation I seem to find something new, you might want to take time to sign up for both. The first will be hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Monday, October 31, 2011 beginning at 1:00 pm ET. The second, which will focus specifically on how the AIA will impact your business, is provided by K&L Gates and will be on Thursday, November 3, 2011 from 3:00pm to 4:30 pm ET.