Gene Quinn (left) is a widely read commentator, a law professor and a patent attorney. In 1999 Gene launched IPWatchdog.com. Today IPWatchdog has over 110,000 monthly readers and has been recognized as the top IP Law blog for 2 of the last 3 years by the American Bar Association.
In addition to Gene's articles we publish a variety of articles from Guest Contributors who offer their unique expertise and commentary on a variety of issues. We also have several freelance journalists who write for us now as well.
In this last column in our Earth Day 2013 series, IPWatchdog wants to take a look at some of the research and development coming out of one of the industry leaders in wind energy technology, General Electric Company of Schenectady, NY.
GE Wind Energy is a branch of General Electric Company that is involved with the development and manufacture of wind energy turbines. As of 2009, General Electric was the world’s 2nd largest wind turbine supplier, according to Reuters. Wind energy has gained a lot of attention in the alternative energy world because it is renewable and can create electricity without fossil fuel emissions.
These patents and patent applications, published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, outline General Electric’s goals to increase efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs for its wind energy systems. Recently published patent applications include documents filed to protect a more efficiently designed turbine blade and an electronic sensor that can determine if corrosive forces have damaged a turbine blade. Another application is for a light reflective substance that can help warn birds away from turbine blades, which may at first seem insignificant but a major obstacle in the adoption of wind energy are complaints from environmentalists relating to the number of birds killed each year.
Back in January, Scott Daniels pondered the question of whether patent applicants and patentees have a chance of success when appealing Patent Office rejections to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The sad and candid truth is “not much of a chance.” As Scott pointed out, where the Federal Circuit is reviewing a validity decision from the district courts, the Federal Circuit reviews the claim construction de novo. The Federal Circuit also chooses not the most likely meaning, but the broadest reasonable meaning for disputed claim language. That is, the claim construction most likely to invalidate the claim in question. Now, we ask whether the same fate is likely to befall claims that are being asserted in a patent infringement action. Asked differently, does the Federal Circuit choose the claim construction most likely to lead to a conclusion of no infringement? Saffran v. Johnson & Johnson seems to suggest that the answer is sadly, yes.
Dr. Bruce Saffran (“Saffran”) is the owner and sole inventor of U.S. Patent No. 5,653,760 (the “’760 patent”). The ’760 patent describes an apparatus for spurring the repair of bone fractures by containing tissue fragments and tissue growth-promoting macromolecules within the fracture site. A single-layered sheet, which is selectively impermeable to the macromolecules and the tissue fragments, is affixed to the injured bone tissues. The selective barrier properties of the sheet prevent macromolecules from leaking out into neighboring tissues, thus concentrating the macromolecules at the fracture site.
In addition, drugs facilitating tissue regeneration can be bonded via hydrolysable chemical bonds to the inner surface of the single-layered sheet. This inner surface faces the injured tissues. Water molecules present at the fracture site causes lysing of the chemical bonds, which in turn releases and delivers the drugs into the fracture site. Bond lysis occurs at a constant rate, which enables the steady and controlled release of the drugs.
EDITORIAL NOTE: As of April 26, 2013 at 12:56am ET, the USPTO has resolved this issue. Notices not automatically sent will be resent.
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Due to a system issue, the e-Office Action process is currently experiencing a problem with sending emails to external email addresses. Automatic Email notifications have been delayed for e-Office Action participants on 4/24 and 4/25 – emails are currently being sent manually. We are working to resolve this problem and anticipate the e-Office Action program will be working again shortly. In the meantime, please go to the Outgoing Correspondence tab in Private PAIR to check if you have new correspondence from the Office. We will keep you informed with follow-up announcements. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Although Earth Day 2013 is now behind us, our week long Earth Day 2013 series continues to looking at different ways American research and development firms are advancing green technologies. Today, we’ll look at hybrid electric vehicle patents and patent applications issued/published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to the “Big Three” U.S. automobile manufactures: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.
Hybrid electric vehicles pose a number of potential environmental and economic benefits that make it an important sector within green technology. Hybrids store an electrical charge in a battery that either reduces the amount of power required from an internal combustion engine or, in the case of all-electric vehicles, powers the entire car. This technology is in many ways still in its early developmental stages, but already some car manufacturers are selling hybrid models that reach100 miles per gallon of gasoline, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This reduces the amount of gasoline needed from imports and reduces fossil fuel emissions to almost nil.
Recent patent applications published by the USPTO show that much of the basic controls behind hybrid electric systems in vehicles still have much room for improvement. We’ve noticed a lot of patent applications for systems of controlling electrical charges within the hybrid vehicle or the local electrical grid, in the case of charging stations. Another patent application makes it easier to diagnose powertrain issues in hybrid vehicles.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Continuing our Earth Day 2013 series, Charles Lickson asks whether patent protection is enough of an incentive for exploring clean, green solutions that may not be protectable, but which could offer important benefits for the environment and a sustainable energy future.
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It is certainly understandable why time and field of application limits must be placed on patent grants to allow inventors and organizations other than the patentee to enter certain fields after the exclusivity period expires. To do otherwise would actually inhibit the value of an invention because there would only ever be one supplier. Our patent system, of which I am a firm believer, gives a period of exclusive opportunity to the inventor – something essential to moving an invention into the real world of commerce and societal benefit. The field of clean or green technology is one of those areas where innovation is desperately needed if our planet Earth is to survive as a place where all living things can thrive.
Several important questions arise from this kind of situation:
What if a “new” and needed technology is not really new, but rather a new way of doing something which builds on a known (and patented technology where the exclusive protection period has expired)?
And, what if the “new” technology cannot find its way to market (i.e. real-world application) unless there is funding?
Over 850 delegates from more than 100 countries are attending the three-day meeting from 24 to 26 April that is being chaired by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and hosted by Turkish Customs with the support of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey.
United around a common goal to stop the trade in counterfeit and pirated products, the organizers and participants aim to share experiences and devise strategies to counteract this global phenomenon and the harm these goods can have on consumer health and safety, as well as intellectual property rights (IPR).
This article continues our Earth Day 2013 series with a look at the IPO Inventor of the Year Awards.
Four times over the past nine years the Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) Education Foundation has recognized inventors of green technologies as the Inventor of the Year. This trend is certainly not accidental given the growing interest in green technologies and the increased importance they will play as the global economy shifts from a carbon-based energy platform to more sustainable and environmentally friendly sources of energy.
Of course, we are many years away from a totally renewable energy economy. While there are some that are working on the “home run” solutions, many others work on important incremental advances. These incremental advances are what the patent system thrives on and particularly incentivizes. As you can see below, 3 of the 4 green technologies recognized by the IPO over the past decade relate to reducing energy consumption. The other relates to cleaning water, which saves lives in third-world and developing countries. Indeed, there are numerous ways to be green!
Will the IPO continue its recent trend and recognize a green innovation in 2013, making 5 out of the last 10 years a celebration of environmentally friendly technologies? That is at least in part up to the community. The IPO is currently looking for nominations for the 2013 Inventor of the Year Award, which will be handed out in a ceremony in Washington, DC, in December 2013. The nomination deadline is May 15, 2013.
In my first installment on Paragraph IV Certifications under Hatch-Waxman, I explored the basics of this “beast.” See A Primer on Paragraph IV Certifications: Into the Belly of the Hatch-Waxman Beast Part 1. In my second installment on Paragraph IV Certifications under Hatch-Waxman, I discussed one of the more litigated “trouble spots” for Paragraph IV Certifications, namely the “carve out” cases. See Carve Outs: Into The Belly of the Hatch-Waxman Beast Part 2. In my third and final installment, I’ll focus on probably the most contentious “trouble spot,” namely Hatch-Waxman “reverse payment” cases, now before the Supreme Court in FTC v. Watson Pharmaceuticals(renamed as FTC v. Actavis, Inc.) for which oral argument was recently heard. So let’s strap on our safety belts one last time, and dive back into the “belly” of this Hatch-Waxman “beast” to look at “reverse payment” cases.
“Reverse payment” cases are an outgrowth of a key feature I noted in my first article on the basics of Paragraph IV Certifications: the filing of an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) by the generic drug maker with a Paragraph IV Certification is treated as a technical act of patent infringement. After receiving notice of the Paragraph IV Certification, the patent owner/NDA holder has 45 days to bring suit, otherwise the FDA can move forward on approving the ANDA. Conversely, if the patent owner/NDA holder does bring an infringement suit within the prescribed 45 day period, the FDA cannot approve that ANDA for 30 months, unless the patent(s) that are the subject of the Paragraph IV Certification are earlier deemed invalid or not infringed in that suit.
Recycling has been a major concern in America for the past few decades, but our methods of recycling and commitment to green living could still see major improvement. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency reported that Americans created about 250 million tons of solid waste in 2010, most of that ending up in landfills or as combustible fuel, which can create a lot of air pollution. Only 85 million tons of this waste was recycled during that year.
Firefly’s Jayne Cobb wearing the poofball hat in question.
It should come as no surprise that a nerd such as myself is into Sci-Fi, so when news of the Fox / Firefly / Shiny Hat kerfuffle hit the ‘verse, I was naturally all over it like the Alliance on an illegal salvage operation.
For those of you who are totally missing out, Firefly was a briefly lived television show that aired on Fox in 2002. It only lasted for a few months before Fox yanked the plug (a most egregious decision that I shall never EVER forgive them for). In the years that followed, Firefly – the best space western you didn’t watch – gained a cult following that gives Trekkies a run for their money. In one of the episodes, the character Jayne Cobb receives a care package from his mother containing a homemade orange and yellow poofball hat. The hat wasn’t a focal point of the episode but fans of the show, known as Browncoats, can easily be identified at conventions by wearing this most cunning hat.
Despite collecting dust on the shelf at Fox for over a decade, the fans’ devotion to Firelfly has kept the series alive. If you’ve never been to a convention like ComiCon, it’s common to see folks dressing up as their favorite character from a comic, movie, or TV Show. There may be a Viper Pilot here, a 4th Doctor there, even a Stormtrooper or two. Browncoats wear the Jayne Hat. The hat is, and has been, a favorite item of do-it-yourselfers to sell on sites like Etsy.
Today our week-long Earth Day 2013 seriestakes a look at solar power technologies. To accomplish this we look at a variety of patent applications, as well as an issued patent, all of which relate to solar energy technologies that have been released by the USPTO within the past month or so.
Solar energy is one of the alternative energy forms that many believe can be an effective part of the new alternative energy that replaces our current carbon-based fossil fuel situation. Electricity generation from solar radiation creates no air pollutants and poses a minimal intrusion on the environment. However, solar radiation can be inconsistent based on time of day or weather, and large surface areas must be used to collect enough solar energy to generate a meaningful amount of electricity.
Four recent patent applications published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and featured here below give an interesting insight into the future of solar energy generation. In most of these applications, we can see solar cell panel technology being applied to individual devices and machines, collecting enough energy to charge a battery or at least reduce energy used from other sources. These patent applications describe cars, digital cameras, irrigation systems and even digital cameras with solar energy collection technology.
One solar technology patent awarded by the USPTO protects a photovoltaic energy collection kit that a homeowner could purchase and set up at a residence to provide solar energy generation for that building.
Normally when we discuss the impact of the Bayh-Dole Act, allowing universities and small companies to commercialize inventions made with federal support, we focus on the life sciences where the resulting new drugs and therapies dramatically improved lives for millions around the world. However, the celebration of Earth Day is an appropriate time to consider the contributions our publicly funded research organizations– partnering with an entrepreneurial private sector– make in protecting our environment.
A key purpose of the Bayh-Dole legislation is unleashing federally funded basic research so that it could be commercialized, thus benefitting society. As industry retreats more and more from conducting early stage research (where breakthrough discoveries are made) this alliance is essential to our nation.
One of the drivers behind the bipartisan support of the Bayh-Dole Act was that 28,000 taxpayer funded inventions were sitting idly on the shelves in Washington, D.C. benefitting no one. Under pre Bayh-Dole policies the government took federally funded inventions away from their creators destroying the intended incentives of the patent system. Thus, the full impact of billions of dollars spent annually on taxpayer supported R&D was squandered.
The history of Earth Day traces back to 1970 when then United States Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) came up with the idea. He had long sought a way to inspire people to become more environmentally conscious, and after reading about anti-Vietnam War “teach-ins” on college campuses he was inspired to start a nationwide teach-in on the environment. Senator Nelson wrote letters to all 50 governors and mayors of the larges U.S. cities asking them to issue Earth Day proclamations. He also wrote to college newspapers across the country. His efforts worked and an estimated 20 million people participated in various education activities on April 22, 1970.
In 2009 the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution designating April 22 each yeas as International Mother Earth Day. The resolution, spearheaded by the Bolivian Government and supported by over 50 Member States, noted that Earth Day was already observed each year on 22 April in many countries. Today Earth Day is celebrated globally in more than 175 countries every year.
This year at IPWatchdog.com we have decided to not just celebrate Earth Day, but rather to celebrate all week. We will have a variety of articles that focus on innovations and technologies that make a cleaner, greener planet a reality. The technological advances we will celebrate come from independent inventors, large multi-national corporations such as General Electric, and exciting basic scientific advances made by U.S. universities and licensed out to small businesses for development.
Collecting the information necessary to prepare a patent application covering a computer related invention can be quite challenging. Typically, most computer related inventions today relate at least in some way to software, which is at the core of the challenge. This software challenge stems from the fact that the software code is not protected by patent law, but rather how the software operates is protected. This means that the description needs to be one that can be replicated by others regardless of how they choose to write code to accomplish the necessary tasks.
A patent does not need to be a blueprint, but it needs to direct. For example, you do not need to provide the code for the scripts, although that is certainly one way to make sure it is described adequately, and perhaps something you may want to consider if you have a working prototype that you want to protect (more on this later).
Generally speaking, the goal is to provide enough description so that someone who is “skilled in the art,” which is a legal term that refers to those who would be expected to possess the knowledge and understanding appropriate to comprehend the invention, can make and use the invention after reading the patent application. In order to satisfy the patent law description requirements the explanation of the software in a patent application must give the programmer enough information to be able to sit down and know how to write the code having only read the description contained in the patent application.
Since my last article here on IPWatchdog.com, the pharmaceutical industry has been simply overflowing with interesting developments, including the US Supreme Court hearing arguments concerning three significant cases.
The first case argued at the Supreme Court will determine whether generic drugmakers can be sued for alleged flaws in the design of their medications. At issue is whether federal law preempts such claims from proceeding in state court and if drugmakers can be held liable if they decline to withdraw their medicines from the marketplace.
Of course, the same concept could be applied to brand-name drugmakers, which is why the entire pharmaceutical industry is on edge. In fact, the Obama administration filed a brief in support of drugmakers over concerns the FDA regulatory review process could be undermine if medicines deemd safe and effective could later by considered ‘unreasonably dangerous.’
The court reviewed an appeal by Mutual Pharmaceutical to overturn a $21 million jury award to a New Hampshire woman who in 2004 had taken a generic painkiller called sulindac, but developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. She’s nearly permnanetly blind and suffered burn-like lesions over most of her body, underwent numerous surgeries, and is now unable to read, drive or work, and must use a feeding tube, her lawsuit says.
How to Write a Patent Application is a must own for patent attorneys, patent agents and law students alike. A crucial hands-on resource that walks you through every aspect of preparing and filing a patent application, from working with an inventor to patent searches, preparing the patent application, drafting claims and more. The treatise is continuously updated to address relevant Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decision impacting patent drafting.
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