On October 10, 1999, IPWatchdog.com first went live on the Internet. It has been an honor and privilege to get to know so many wonderful people in our industry over the last 15 years, to talk to many industry leaders on the record, and to in some small way continue to push the debate forward. Thanks to our readers and contributors we have been recognized as as one of the top 100 legal blogs by the American Bar Association for 5 years in a row. For 3 of the last 4 years (2010, 2012, 2013) we were recognized as the top intellectual property law blog according to the ABA. In January 2014 we were also honored to be inducted into the ABA Blawg Hall of Fame. CLICK HERE to read more.
On the very same day that the U.S. jobs report shows unexpectedly weak growth, the Federal Court of Australia issued a ruling directly opposite to the ruling rendered by the United States Supreme Court relative to gene patents. In Yvonne D’Arcy v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the Federal Court of Australia ruled that Myriad’s claims to isolated DNA are patentable under the laws of Australia. That is the correct ruling, and it is the ruling the U.S. Supreme Court should have reached in Association of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. As the patent eligibility laws of the U.S. become increasingly inhospitable to high-tech innovative businesses we can expect more job losses and worse news for the U.S. economy on the horizon.
Posted: Friday, Sep 5, 2014 @ 10:55 am | Written by U.S.P.T.O. | No Comments »
The USPTO is seeking feedback from U.S. trademark owners, practitioners, and other interested parties about this proposal to allow amendments to identifications of goods and services due to technology evolution. Please send comments regarding the proposal to TMPolicy@uspto.gov, with the subject line “Technology Evolution.” Comments may be posted on the USPTO website. In order to ensure that your feedback may be considered, please submit it no later than November 3, 2014.
Based on user input, including at a recent roundtable, the USPTO proposes to amend its current practice to permit amendments in limited circumstances to identifications of goods/services based on changes in the manner or medium by which products and services are offered for sale and provided to consumers due to evolving technology if the underlying content or subject matter has not changed. This change in practice takes into account the goal of preserving trademark registrations and applications in situations where technology in an industry has evolved in such a way that amendment of the goods/services in question would not generate a public-notice problem.
Posted: Thursday, Sep 4, 2014 @ 1:34 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 25 comments
By now virtually everyone in the patent industry is aware of the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. What is less universally understood is the full extent of the decision. My immediate reaction was that this would be extremely bad for software patents. Many others thought I was engaging in extreme exaggeration. Since then, however, the Patent Office has started issuing Alice rejections where no previous 101 patent eligibility rejection stood, they have been withdrawing notices of allowance after the issue fee has been paid in order to issue Alice rejections, and the Federal Circuit is strictly applying the nebulous “Alice standard” to find software patent claims patent ineligible.
It is now clear that the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice fundamentally changed the law and future of software patents, at least those already issued and applications already filed, which cannot be changed without adding new matter. Those applications were filed at a different time and under a substantially different regime.
Posted: Thursday, Sep 4, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
Last week we profiled improvements to hydrogen-fueled energy generation, which was the focus of a webinar hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office. As an energy carrier, hydrogen may have an incredible capacity to reduce our energy reliance on fossil fuels and reduce pollutants caused by conventional energy generation processes. In order to get an idea of the wider world of development in this field, we’ve surveyed the most recent patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to find the latest hydrogen-related innovation that have been protected through U.S. patent grants for companies worldwide.
In this follow-up piece, we focus on recently patented technologies that deal with all aspects of hydrogen generation and the use of hydrogen fuels. We begin our discussion with a trio of patents related to various processes of hydrogen generation. Storing and transportation of hydrogen has been cited as an issue for more implementation of hydrogen technologies, which is why we were happy to include a couple of patents aimed at solving these problems. Methods for refilling hydrogen fuel cells and a couple of technologies for recovering greenhouse gases created by hydrogen generation processes are also discussed below.
Posted: Wednesday, Sep 3, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by Raymond Millien | 1 Comment »
Illustration by Cat Scott for www.engrossed.me (used with permission).
Personnel charged with managing an enterprise’s intellectual property (IP) are increasingly being asked to show some return for the often multi-million dollar expenditures on applications, registrations and attorneys’ fees. Such returns are only possible by undertaking some form of IP monetization efforts. Like most corporate efforts, however, there first must be a strategy in place. Yet, how can enterprises set an IP monetization strategy without first understanding the IP landscape in the relevant industry? More specifically, enterprises must be able to answer the following questions before even setting a strategy and embarking on any IP monetization efforts: Who are our potential licensees? Who are our potential enforcement targets? What are our best IP assets? Where do we start? What are best practices in the industry? What are the risks? What are the potential rewards? The process of answering these questions in order to form and execute upon IP monetization strategy is called competitive intelligence (CI).
Posted: Wednesday, Sep 3, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
Last week we profiled recently published patent applications owned by Panasonic. In today’s edition of the Companies We Follow series, we’re wrapping up our in-depth coverage of Panasonic, one of the many major electronics developers found throughout the country of Japan. This company has been issued dozens of patents in recent weeks from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In our new format, we’re taking an extended look at the patents recently issued to this company to gain an even wider view of the type of inventions this corporation has been successful in protecting.
As you will see below, our recent survey of Panasonic patents shows us a great deal of innovation in all electronic fields, from the basic foundation of the semiconductor through complex computer-implemented systems designed to aid human functioning. Although Panasonic may be moving away from manufacturing the semiconductors and integrated circuits which it has designed, many of the issued patents shared below support the fact that this company is still heavily entrenched in this field.
Patent prosecutors have responded to the Disclosure Revolution in much the same way that clergy and medical doctors responded to the Black Death. Medieval doctors offered incantations and ritual; patent lawyers recite boilerplate. Neither is particularly effective.
Here, “boilerplate” refers to the general disclaimers, caveats, and restatements of aphorisms included in patent applications, for the apparent purpose of warding off evil spirits and narrow claim constructions. Specific disclaimers, as well as alternatives and variations, stand separate from boilerplate. To illustrate the difference, consider the following two statements: “The frammis illustrated in Fig. 3 is not limited to the constructional detail shown there or described in the accompanying text. As those of skill in the art will understand, a suitable frammis can be fabricated from aluminum, stainless steel, or high-density polymer.” And: “Those in the art will understand that a number of variations may be made in the disclosed embodiments, all without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined solely by the appended claims.” The first, specifically focused, is not boilerplate. The second, often appended to applications, is.
Posted: Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Joseph Allen | No Comments »
Entrepreneurship is hard anywhere. It’s especially difficult in government where all too often agency lawyers, committees and bureaucratic procedures smother promising new ideas under reams of red tape. This makes a partnership between the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Avon Foundation and the Center for Advancing Innovation boosting new treatments in the fight against breast cancer all the more remarkable. That this initiative was conceived and launched in a large federal agency in just a few months illustrates the difference that a few inspired people can make.
A critical factor not stressed enough in technology commercialization is the need for a passionate commitment to success. Taking early stage discoveries from the lab to the market is a long, arduous, daunting journey. Without an all-consuming passion to overcome all obstacles and keep getting back up after repeatedly being knocked down, the chances of success are remote. This is hard enough at best. Yet too many times entrepreneurs in large organizations face additional cultural barriers that doom their efforts before they ever get started. Effective leaders recognize this trap, insuring that internal processes and procedures support product development, not thwart it.
Posted: Monday, Sep 1, 2014 @ 11:35 am | Written by Dr. Kristina Lybecker | 31 comments
Patents encourage and protect innovation. That’s undeniable, but it’s naïve to believe that’s all we need to develop the new products that evolve into the industries that bolster the dynamic U.S. economy. Patents, and other forms of intellectual property protection, are a necessary prerequisite, but incentivizing innovation requires more. Just as plants require sunshine, water and nutrients to grow, innovation needs more than simply patent protection to thrive. To thrive innovation requires a climate that is conducive for business success.
Sadly, Capitol Hill is frequently the setting for both grandstanding and pandering, and given the prevailing political and public sentiment it is also frequently a place where businesses find an inhospitable welcome. A recent case in point: Three senior members of Congress (Henry Waxman, Frank Pallone Jr., and Diana DeGette) have started a joint investigation into the pricing of Sovaldi, a breakthrough drug for hepatitis C produced by Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD). Rather than applaud the health benefits that this drug will deliver, Congress is grilling the company on their pricing decision, striking fear in the investment community, and indirectly undermining the healthcare innovation that is so desperately needed.
The focus of this particular article is on the disclosure of the invention in the specification. While it is true that the claims will define the exclusive rights that are granted to the patentee, the specification provides the information through which the claims are read. The specification provides the detail that defines what the claims mean, and as the result of a variety of cases over the past few years the specification is becoming an increasingly important part of the patent application. It has always been required and very important, but Courts seem to be marching the United States toward a strict technological advancement standard, which means the technology, mechanics, structure, architecture and environment in which the invention is used really needs to be described with as much detail as possible in order to guarantee that the claims are viewed as covering an innovation and not something trivial or unimportant.