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PTAB Death Squads: Are All Commercially Viable Patents Invalid?

Posted: Monday, Mar 24, 2014 @ 1:42 pm | Written by Rob Sterne & Gene Quinn | 35 comments
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Patents, Post Grant Procedures, Practising Law Institute, USPTO

As was predicted in Patent Office Litigation, much is going on in the world of contested proceedings at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  What no one could have predicted, however, was how broadly and rapidly the new challenges to the patentability of issued U.S. patents would become the standard defense tactic in U.S. patent litigation in all areas of technology.  Indeed, 74% of the new contested proceedings are in the electronics/communications/method of doing business technology space, while 13% are in the mechanical space, and 13% are in the biotechnology, chemical, pharmaceutical space.

Brand name pharmaceutical giants are starting to realize that administrative patent trials at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) will present an unanticipated avenue for generic drug manufacturers to challenge blockbuster drugs. No commercially viable patent is safe it seems.

Approximately 80% of the claims challenged in petitions are instituted for trial on at least one proposed ground of unpatentability, but the dire statistics from the patent owner perspective do not stop there. As of the beginning of March, the Board had issued Final Written Decisions after the completion of the trial process in 19 proceedings – 11 IPRs and 8 CBMs.  In all but three of these proceedings, the Board cancelled ALL claims for which trial was instituted!  The Board cancelled 95.2% of all claims for which trial was instituted, and cancelled 82.9% of all claims that were initially challenged by the petitioner.  These are draconian statistics for patent owners!

Apple Seeks Patent on Dynamic Playlist for Digital Content

Posted: Monday, Mar 24, 2014 @ 8:15 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Apple, Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Mobile Devices, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Few companies we cover here at IPWatchdog have as much sway in the consumer electronics industry as Apple Inc. of Cupertino, CA. This multinational corporation, also heavily involved in the fields of computer software and personal computers, recently released a cheaper version of the iPhone 5C to Chinese and European markets. The company is also at the center of rumors that they may be in production phases for the new generation of iPhone 6 smartphones for release later this year or next. Not only interested in new markets for devices, Apple is also busy developing several revolutionary apps, including one designed to provide basic health and fitness functions for users.

The intriguing software and hardware innovations of this technology giant makes Apple a fun corporation to profile for our Companies We Follow series. We’ve picked out the most interesting patent applications and issued patents published by the USPTO and assigned to this California-based corporation. These inventions run the gamut from digital media systems to hardware improvements for handheld mobile devices.

We begin our look at Apple today by taking an in-depth look at our featured patent application, which describes smarter methods of building playlists for digital content, like songs. This system can dynamically update playlists based on a user’s changing taste or if another user with a compatible device walks into the room. We also picked up on a few other patent applications featuring revolutionary technologies, including one microphone headset component that enables voice processing by sending data signals through an owner’s bones and body tissues.

Hunting Bayh-Dole Vampires

Posted: Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 @ 12:30 pm | Written by Joseph Allen | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Joe Allen, Patents, Pharmaceutical, Technology & Innovation, Technology Transfer, Universities

Steel yourself, gentle reader.  This month we go hunting the living dead:  arguments that keep climbing out of the grave to bite and infect the unwary.

Four months after NIH rejected the latest attempt to misuse the Bayh-Dole Act to control drug prices zealots have risen from the crypt claiming the law should be used to haunt drug developers. March-in rights were designed to force universities to issue additional licenses if effective efforts are not being made to commercialize a federally funded invention; if the licensee cannot meet national health, safety or regulatory needs; or if the licensee fails to make the product in the U.S. despite a pledge to do so.

Critics claim there’s another trigger: if they don’t like the price of a drug.  While the cost of new drugs is a concern, their solution sucks the life blood out of a system leading the world in protecting public health. It’s time to drive a stake through that spectre.

Software Patent Amici in Support of Petitioner Alice Corporation

Posted: Sunday, Mar 23, 2014 @ 8:30 am | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | 14 comments
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Posted in: Computers, Gene Quinn, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Patents, Software, Steve Brachmann, US Supreme Court

When the U.S. Supreme Court finishes hearing arguments in the upcoming case Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank International, it will be asked to judge whether or not software and computer-implemented inventions are eligible to receive patent protections through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Should the Supreme Court uphold the original decision and declares that the Alice’s patents on computer-implemented systems for managing risk in financial transactions are patent ineligible, thousands upon thousands of software patents could become invalidated.

We discussed some of the issues in play with this major case in our previous look at amicus briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court for this case. We have also profiled the IBM amicus brief that argued that the abstract idea doctrine was unworkable. These parties, though largely neutral, had a number of disdain for how the judiciary has handled the issue of software’s patent eligibility under Section 101 of Title 35 of the United States Code. Today, we’re taking a look at briefs filed for either side of this historic case to get a broader sense of the viewpoints involved in this issue. A number of major corporations, non-profit organizations in technological fields and renowned scholars have lent their ideas to these briefs, and readers may find their views on the patent eligibility of software programs to be enlightening.

A quick perusal of the amicus briefs published online by the American Bar Association shows that only a few of the briefs filed are supporting the petitioner, Alice Corporation, in this case. In fact, only three briefs in support of the petitioner are shown on the ABA’s official site listing amicus briefs for this case; there are a total of 40 amicus curiae briefs shown on that site, as of this writing.

U.S. Commerce Department Announces Plan to Accelerate Transition to Private Management of the Domain Name System

Posted: Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 @ 12:19 pm | Written by Howard Hogan & Indraneel Sur | No Comments »
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Posted in: Department of Commerce, Guest Contributors, International, Internet, IP News, Articles

On March 14, 2014, the United States Department of Commerce announced that it is asking the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) to begin discussions on a transition proposal for replacing the Department with a non-governmental entity to serve as steward of the Internet’s Domain Name System (“DNS”).[1] The Department’s announcement (the “Announcement”),[2] and accompanying question-and-answer guidance,[3] signals an effort to accelerate the transition to private-sector leadership of and supervision over the technical coordination of the DNS, which has proceeded sporadically since the late 1990s, when the Executive Branch set privatization as the eventual goal.  The Department said it was acting “[t]o support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet policymaking and governance.”  News reports have described speculation that the timing of the Announcement suggested a desire to pare back the U.S. Government’s role in Internet management in the aftermath of publicized disclosures of classified information involving foreign intelligence collection by the National Security Agency.[4]

Also on March 14, ICANN announced that it was “inviting governments, the private sector, civil society, and other Internet organizations from the whole world” to participate in the development of the transition proposal.[5]  ICANN noted that the “responsibilities to be transitioned include the procedural role of administering changes to” the DNS and “to the authoritative root zone file–the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains–as well as serving as the historic steward of the unique identifiers registries for Domain names, IP addresses, and protocol parameters.”

Engaging Small Business Customers from the Start

Posted: Saturday, Mar 22, 2014 @ 11:35 am | Written by James White | No Comments »
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Posted in: Business, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Social Media, Social Networking

Making a startup into a successful small business venture requires more than an entrepreneurial heart and willpower. It takes a loyal base comprised of engaged, connected customers and clients to help a business go from start up to sustainable.

In other articles and discussions, IP WatchDog has touched on building and improving a solid company website and networking off line, but what about online networks? What have you done lately to engage potential clients that find your company page online? Are you putting a priority on these efforts as well? If not, now is the time to get serious.

A Business Tutorial: Four Ways to Stretch Your Patent Budget

Posted: Friday, Mar 21, 2014 @ 12:22 pm | Written by Todd Rapier | 2 comments
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Posted in: Business, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Patents

Whether your annual patent budget is in the tens of thousands of dollars or the tens of millions of dollars, the pressure to do more with less is becoming increasingly essential, even for critical budget items like the development and protection of patents. In addition to the competitive edge that a strong patent portfolio provides, there are many financial benefits to creating efficiencies in a patent budget. Additionally, being able to apply for patents in multiple jurisdictions will help build your patent portfolio, which is attractive to investors. Finally, well-written and well-translated patent applications can help prevent costs associated with office actions, longer time to grant and litigation.

For those more focused on your company’s business outlook, with intellectual property (IP) being one of many departments under your umbrella, learning some basics on the critical – and not so critical – components of an IP budget can be extremely helpful as you work with your IP managers to make the most of what they have.

Texas Instruments Seeks Patent on Smart Batteries

Posted: Friday, Mar 21, 2014 @ 11:26 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Battery Technology, Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Texas Instruments

Headquartered in Dallas, TX, the Texas Instruments Corporation is always among the world leaders in the manufacture of semiconductor technologies, including digital signal processors, analog semiconductors and cellular chipsets. Recently, the corporation has been pursuing a major exit from the wireless mobile market, announcing its intentions to sell a wireless and analog factory in Nice, France. TI has been receiving a lot of praise for its recent microtechnology developments, including an award-winning digital micromirror device (DMD) for near-infrared (NIR) light process. Texas Instruments is another company moving into the “Internet of Things” sector, evidenced by its recent partnership with an Indian IT services firm to develop “IoT” systems for automobile, medical and industrial corporations.

In today’s Companies We Follow column, we return for a quick look at Texas Instruments, who we’ve profiled in the past. This corporation always has a healthy number of innovations traveling through the halls of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on any given week. Like always, we’ve done our part to identify the most intriguing innovations coming out of the research and development activities of this manufacturer for our readers’ enjoyment.

We begin today’s profile with an in-depth look at a featured patent application describing better security systems for smart batteries in use by a wide array of mobile electronic devices. The advanced circuitry of these batteries would allow for the same amount of compatibility among generic chargers while dissuading would-be copiers from cloning batteries. We also discuss some interesting innovations related to computerized key fobs for secure vehicle access and a couple of improvements to integrated circuit and semiconductor manufacturing.