The United States Patent and Trademark Office exists to protect the rights of American innovators, granting them a license to reap just rewards from their inventions.
But today the U.S. patent system is under attack—in the form of a terribly wrong decision in the very court that was purposely established by Congress in 1982 to support and enforce the protections for patents enshrined in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. The court in question is the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). The bad decision is in Soverain Software LLC vs. Newegg Inc.
In September, the CAFC ruled in favor of Newegg, reversing earlier rulings that Newegg had infringed three patents of Soverain’s relating to Internet commerce technologies.
In doing so, the CAFC disagreed with the facts established by the USPTO when it decided to award Soverain the patents in the first place. It reversed two successive lower court decisions which upheld the USPTO’s position and awarded Soverain both damages and a royalty payment from Newegg. And its decision conflicted with the exact opposite conclusion from the USPTO in reexaminations of the three patents where the same prior art was considered.
UPDATED 2: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:20pm Eastern.
Francis Gurry, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), finds himself in a precarious position this week as news has surfaced about a bizarre and presumably illegal acquisition of DNA samples from WIPO employees. Gurry has already been under pressure from Member States because he has been unable to pass a budget for WIPO, which many attribute to being uncomfortable with the cozy relationship seen between Gurry and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gurry signed a deal to set up a WIPO office in Moscow, which reportedly has rubbed at least some Member States the wrong way.
While Member States may be unhappy about Gurry’s ties to Putin, the newly uncovered DNA scandal raises serious questions and could potentially lead to Gurry’s undoing. Already calls are being made for him to be removed from his post.
Headquartered in Dallas, TX, the American semiconductor manufacturer Texas Instruments (TI) is the world’s third-largest microchip manufacturer, as of April 2011. Its logic and processor technologies power many of the smartphones, calculators, computers and other electronic devices we use daily. Recently, the corporation announced that its Multicore Software Development Kit, which is used by programmers to develop applications for TI platforms, will be available in a version for low-power processors. According to the stock market insight website OptionMONSTER, Texas Instruments stock has recently experienced thousands of put options, which could indicate financial volatility in a positive or negative direction.
Texas Instruments is one of the strongest companies in its field throughout the world, making it a great choice for featuring in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series. Those who are interested in the ever-growing world of the semiconductor may be interested to see the upcoming developments affecting this sector of technology. We’ve explored the recent patent applications and issued patents published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and assigned to TI for a clearer look at this technology firm’s research and development aims.
Today, we’ve chosen for our featured patent application an interesting development that may finally make practical indoor mapping applications for electronic device owners feasible. This system, developed by Texas Instruments, would use wireless local access network analysis of device motion within a building instead of satellite-based systems to provide an exact location of a device user. Other patent applications have been filed by TI to protect systems of determining accurate touch commands on a multi-touch screen surface, as well as a plastic-packaged semiconductor device that is lightweight and better protected against electrical shorts.
The patents issued by the USPTO to any corporation are an important indicator of that company’s strength in intellectual property, and we have an intriguing assortment of patents assigned to Texas Instruments recently. One issued patent focuses on better systems of video processing to prevent digital video from developing a flicker effect. Another patent protects a system of improving digital navigation programs that respond better to a device’s actual state within a moving vehicle. We’ve also taken a look at one patent that provides adaptive forms of partitioning system resources within an electronic device.
If you’re trying to draft a patent application for a computer-related invention, you’re basically left in a mess of opinions that the Federal Circuit refers to as CLS Bank Int’l v. Alice Corp. The decision, described by Judge Rader as a failure of his institution, left us wanting for just a tad –by a tad I actually mean a ton– more predictability. For now, we can only try to parse out why the opinions differed, take cues from our historical backdrop, and revise our prosecution strategy accordingly.
“A lot of times when we talk about patent eligibility we really need to know what the claims look like, so I thought we could spend four or five hours discussing this claim. Oh not enough time,” says Bruce Sunstein, founder of Sunstein, Kann, Murphy, and Timbers LLP at the 2013 AIPLA Annual Meeting. Fair point, Sunstein. So here’s the gist of CLS Bank. We have a computer readable medium claim in a format we’re accustomed to and that seems to be perfectly acceptable— program code for this program code for that. There are system claims that also would seem completely okay. Finally, there’s a method claim, which notably doesn’t include the word “computer.” Unfortunately for us, seeming completely okay was clearly not the test for patent eligibility. This was an en banc decision. The 10 available votes came out as follows:
Seven judges say method claims are not patent eligible.
Three judges say method claims are patent eligible.
Five judges say systems claims are not patent eligible.
Five judges say systems claims are patent eligible.
Judge Lourie writing with Dyk, Prost, Reyna, and Wallach says none of the claims are patent eligible. They reject the method claims for being too abstract. Then they say the storage and systems claims are just method claims in disguise, and so are also not patent eligible.
Louis Foreman (left) and Dr. Gary Michelson (right), taken May 4, 2011, after Michelson was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame.
Prominent inventors have now joined the growing chorus of those opposed to the Innovation Act (HR 3309). Specifically, the letter and recommendations below were sent by Louis J. Foreman (Chief Executive Officer, Edison Nation), Dr. Gary K. Michelson. (Inductee, National Inventors Hall of Fame) and Gregory G. Raleigh, Ph.D. (Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, ItsOn). The letter and recommendations were sent to Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), who is the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who is Char of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who is Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Despite the problems with the Innovation Act and the mounting calls to slow down, Senator Leahy has introduced a companion bill in the Senate, which suggests that this legislation will move extraordinarily quick. See Leahy Bill Released and Leahy. Those who are unhappy with the legislation really need to speak now.
Washington – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that the San Jose City Hall building, located at 200 East Santa Clara Street, has been selected as the permanent location for the USPTO’s Silicon Valley satellite office. The search for permanent office space was put on hold in July due to sequestration. Generous support and assistance from the City of San Jose, the California State Assembly’s Speaker’s Office, along with the collective support for the satellite office championed by members of the California congressional delegation, will enable the USPTO to move forward with occupying permanent space in Silicon Valley by the end of 2014.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker outlined her “Open for Business Agenda.” Promoting American innovation is a core priority of the Agenda, as technology and innovation is the key driver of U.S. competitiveness, wage and job growth, and long term economic growth. The selection of a permanent USPTO office in the Silicon Valley is a key part of the Commerce Department and Obama administration’s efforts to boosting America’s innovation economy.
“A permanent USPTO office in Silicon Valley will help grow the regional innovation ecosystem by empowering entrepreneurs to more readily navigate the nation’s intellectual property system,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The USPTO plays a crucial role in helping protect the cutting-edge ideas that drive our economy and keep the U.S. globally competitive. The permanent satellite offices help advance the Commerce Department’s innovation agenda by helping entrepreneurs get their products to market more quickly, provide resources tailored to the needs of local start-ups, and create good paying, high-skilled jobs.”
The man with the electronic throat tattoo. Figure 3 from U.S. Patent Application 20130297301.
File this in the “you have to be kidding me” category if you like, but U.S. Patent Application No. 20130297301, which published November 7, 2013, shows that Google has applied for a patent on a system and method of coupling an electronic skin tattoo together with a mobile communication device. It seems that this particular electronic tattoo incorporated circuitry within the tattoo that enables the picking up of acoustic sounds that emanate from the throat region of the body when said tattoo is applied in close proximity to the throat region.
Essentially, Google is trying to patent a throat microphone that is embedded in a tattoo.
With this patent application it seems to me that Google has officially jumped the shark, and has lost all credibility in the patent debate they seem so desperate to influence in an anti-patent way. Google representatives constantly preach that they don’t need patents, they don’t want patents, the world would be a better place without patents, and that the only reason that they obtain patents is for defensive purposes. That specious argument never rang true, particularly when they would pivot from “we only get patents for defensive purposes” into complaining about the injustice they suffer at the hands of patent trolls, as if to tie the two wholly unrelated matters together.
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