When Calvert retired in June 2014 I was saddened to see a him leave, but also saddened because I know how tirelessly he works to inform, educate and assist independent inventors. While he has no doubt earned a quite retirement I am extremely pleased to say that in retirement Calvert will continue to work with independent inventors; he was recently hired as the new Executive Director of the United Inventors Association (UIA). His energy, passion, knowledge and contacts should dramatically impact the UIA in a positive way. Good things are no doubt on the horizon.
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There was a lot riding on Alice v. CLS Bank, and the Supreme Court got it wrong. There is no point in sugar-coating it, or pretending that everything will be alright. The Supreme Court is openly hostile to patents, and increasingly so is the Federal Circuit. Simply stated, strong patent rights are an absolute prerequisite for a high tech economy.
It is a sad realization, but we are indeed at a point were commercially viable claims worth litigating are virtually assured to be invalid claims. Until this changes the economy suffer in due course. After all, it isn’t the copycats who create new things. Copycats copy and innovators innovate. You cannot infringe patents owned by an innovator and claim that because the product is new to you it is an innovation. NO! It is merely new to you and a rip-off from the true innovator.
Pfizer, Inc., is a major American developer of pharmaceutical medications and vaccines for a wide spectrum of medical disciplines. The majority of Pfizer’s business is operated in the northeastern United States, where the company has its corporate headquarters in New York City and its research headquarters in Groton, CT. A Pfizer vaccine that helps to protect against clostridium difficile, a potentially life-threatening bowel infection, received a fast-track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late August of this year. The company also recently announced that it has struck a partnership with fellow American pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. to conduct and evaluate a study on a treatment for lung cancer. Although Pfizer’s efforts to acquire British drug manufacturer AstraZeneca were squashed in May, speculation regarding stock movement in recent weeks has led some to believe that Pfizer may try to revisit the negotiations soon.
The Companies We Follow series is visiting this major manufacturer of medications as we continue our survey of recent innovations in pharmaceutical fields. Patent applications recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show that Pfizer’s recent development goals have focused on a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders. We discuss a trio of patent applications related to treatments involving the nervous system, including a couple of medications treating Alzheimer’s disease along with a host of other ailments. A couple of patent applications are also related to novel treatments for cancer, especially in the area of preventing cancerous growth.
The America Invents Act (AIA) was a great leap forward in the effort to improve patent quality in the US, including the creation of three new post patent issuance challenge procedures: post grant review (PGR), covered business method review (CBM), and inter partes review (IPR). The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has regularly reported some basic statistics related to the new challenge procedures. In an attempt to determine whether these new challenge procedures are serving their intended purpose of improving patent quality, I compiled and now report on additional statistics characterizing the parties and patents associated with completed challenge proceedings and correlated those characterizations to the nature of the outcomes.
The statistics reported by the USPTO focus on the petitions filed for the Patent and Trial Appeal Board (PTAB) to consider in determining whether to institute a challenge proceeding. Well over 1000 such petitions have been filed; the PTAB has instituted challenge proceedings in response to over 70% of the petitions. The USPTO has provided significantly fewer statistics with respect to the outcomes of the challenge proceedings that have been instituted. The outcomes are the end results of the challenge proceedings and, ultimately, should be the best indicator of what the proceedings are accomplishing.
In the world of data security, 2014 will likely go down as one of the rockiest years in history. We have previously covered recent cyber attacks and data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus, among others, as well as ways businesses can tighten up data security to prevent against breaches. The problem has continued to spread, however, and the past few weeks have been eye-opening in terms of the helplessness of corporation against data thieves when using conventional financial technology.
Currently, Home Depot is embroiled in a data breach that may end up affecting even more accounts than the total number of compromised Target customers announced earlier this year. Home Depot confirmed that U.S. and Canadian locations for the home improvement retailer were targets of a cyber attack that may have started as far back as April of this year. Those close to the investigation reportedly have indicated that the number of affected customers could exceed 60 million, 20 million more than were affected in the Target breach.
Home Depot may be the latest and largest breach to become news, but it’s certainly not the only one and hacking activity seems to be ramping up in the past few months. Malicious software known as Backoff, responsible for the Target breach, has also been identified as a potential culprit in recent breaches at Dairy Queen, Supervalu and United Parcel Service. Law enforcement officials have theorized that an Eastern European group may be responsible for a majority of these breaches because of links to Ukraine in the malware’s code.
On October 23, 2014, ICAP Patent Brokerage will sell a portfolio of patents relating to systems and methods for secure identity authentication for electronic funds transfer. The patents owned by Payment Pathways, Inc., related back for priority purposes to a provisional patent application first filed in the United States on February 28, 2003.
One of the inventors named on all four of the patents up for auction is Richard O’Brien, who spoke with me on the record on August 13, 2014. I asked him how he got involved doing research and development on payment gateway systems and processes and he explained that while he was doing some basic patent research he stumbled across a 401(k) patent that provided a system that would allow individuals to take loans from themselves. “I thought that was the coolest idea in the world,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien would visit the owner of the patent rights and the rest is history. O’Brien struck up a working relationship with Franco Modigliani, the first named inventor on U.S. Patent No. 7,831,490, which is the earliest of the patents in the portfolio that will be auctioned. “It takes a genius to see simplicity when other people see complexity,” O’Brien said. “Franco always kept in mind what money really is – money is only a ledger entry unless you can withdraw it.”
Just as in the land of Westeros, there is turmoil and intrigue in our government as to who is to lead the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Indeed, the top position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO has been vacant since the resignation of David Kappos on February 1, 2013. His deputy, Teresa Stanek Rea, became Acting Director, but she was not elevated to his post. She resigned on November 21, 2013, which left both positions unfilled.
On January 13, 2014, Michelle Lee, former head of Patent and Patent Strategy at Google, was appointed Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, and in the ongoing absence of a Director, she holds the fort as Deputy Director, but with her position in administrative law limbo. Despite the clear need for leadership at the USPTO, the search for the next Iron Throne holder is mired in ideology and lobbying.
Hitachi, Ltd., based in Tokyo, Japan, is an electronics and engineering conglomerate and the parent company of the Hitachi Group. Hitachi is involved in an incredibly diverse collection of business segments, including social infrastructure, power systems and digital media. Hitachi’s subsidiaries have been very active in recent days, including Hitachi Data Systems, which recently acquired the data protection firm Sepaton, Inc., a company from Marlborough, MA, which holds a patent portfolio related to data management. Hitachi Metals Ltd. just spent $1.3 billion on acquiring the Wisconsin-based Waupaca Foundry, Inc., the largest purchase completed by that subsidiary. The parent Hitachi company also entered into an agreement with three American universities to develop uses of radioactive waste material from nuclear power plants as fuel.
Many of the patent applications published recently by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and assigned to Hitachi involve various aspects of data storage and systems for data management, including a method for energy-efficient cooling of data center equipment. Hitachi is also involved in the development of automotive services, and we’ve included one patent application describing a vehicle information system that can improve pedestrian and bicyclist crossings. Other patent applications that intrigued us today include one waterproof panel for protecting a building against a tsunami influx and an identification system that can authenticate a person based on the blood vessel pattern in their finger.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the launch of its newly redesigned KIDS! Web pages aimed to encourage students of all ages to learn about the importance of intellectual property (IP) creation and protection. In addition to featuring young inventor profiles, activities, and videos, the pages also offer curricula that link Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education to IP and innovation through downloadable lesson plans, hands-on instructions for building inventions, USPTO career information and other useful resources.
“The USPTO looks to our children—the doers, makers, and tinkerers of the future—to reimagine the world and, as the Constitution calls for, ‘to promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts’ like never before,” said Michelle K. Lee, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO. “As schools across the country ramp up their STEM programming, we look forward to putting even more tools in teachers’ hands that will ensure our next generation is well-versed in concepts of making, inventing, and creating the high-value intellectual property that drives our economy.”
In its latest action to ensure competition in the nation’s healthcare markets, the Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint in federal district court charging several major pharmaceutical companies with illegally blocking American consumers’ access to lower-cost versions of the blockbuster drug AndroGel.
The FTC’s complaint alleges that AbbVie Inc. and its partner Besins Healthcare Inc. filed baseless patent infringement lawsuits against potential generic competitors to delay the introduction of lower-priced versions of the testosterone replacement drug AndroGel. While the lawsuits were pending, AbbVie then entered into an anticompetitive pay-for-delay settlement agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. to further delay generic drug competition.