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USPTO Publishes RFC on Continuation and Other Criticized Patent Practices

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today that it is seeking comment from the public on “proposed initiatives directed at bolstering the robustness and reliability of patents to incentivize and protect new and nonobvious inventions while facilitating the broader dissemination of public knowledge to promote innovation and competition.” During IPWatchdog’s LIVE event in Dallas, Texas, in September, USPTO Texas Regional Office Director Hope Shimabuku explained that issuing “robust and reliable patents”—which seems to have replaced the oft-maligned term, “patent quality,”—is a key focus for USPTO Director Kathi Vidal. The request for comment (RFC) tackles this problem from a number of angles, from fee-setting to terminal disclaimer and continuation practices, to improving prior art searches. The RFC stems in part from a July letter sent by the USPTO to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlining the USPTO’s planned initiatives to help combat perceived links between patents and drug pricing problems.

LES 2021 Royalty Survey Reports: Licensing Market Update, a Look Back, and an LES Royalty Valuation Method in the Making

On September 26, Licensing Executives Society (LES) USA and Canada published the LES High Tech Sector Royalty Rates & Deal Terms Survey Report 2021. In May of this year, the 2021 Global Life Sciences Royalty Rates and Deal Terms Survey results were released. Together, the releases culminated the intense efforts by LES during the COVID-19 pandemic in preparing and launching the Surveys and in analyzing the data, presenting the results and writing the Reports. Not only do LES Royalty Survey Reports provide an update on the licensing market in the past few years, they look into the dynamics of market evolution since the 2000s. The Reports offer benchmark royalty data by various categories, such as technology field and IP type, which serve as invaluable references for licensing professionals. The 2021 High Tech Survey Report is also the only data source in the IP industry that quantifies and publishes royalty rate premiums or discounts such as exclusivity premium and advanced-stage technology premium. Through identifying and quantifying the value contributions of key license parameters such as exclusivity, technology development stage and IP type, among others, the LES team aims to develop a build-up method for royalty determination, analogous to the build-up method in business valuation.

This Week in Washington IP: Fighting the Chip Wars, FTC Regulation of Technology, and Using WIPO Center’s ADR Proceedings for SEP Disputes

This week in Washington IP news, both houses of Congress are silent as they enter scheduled work periods but the Hudson Institute and the American Enterprise Institute host conversations with Chris Miller, the author of Chip Wars: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology. Another Hudson Institute event with Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Noah Phillips explores what the proper role is for the United States’ top antitrust enforcement agency in regulating the tech sector, while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosts a presentation exploring alternative dispute resolution proceedings available at the WIPO Center for resolving disputes over standard essential patents.

The Language of Patents (Part II): Organizing the Descriptive Capability of the Detailed Description to Distinguish Patent Worthy Subject Matter from the Prior Art

In Part I of this series, we discussed  the importance of identifying and avoiding patentability-blocking ambiguities in a patent application. It is equally important that the patent application drafter bring a sensibility to the drafting of the application that recognizes that conceptually the application must not  simply be seen as a document whose job is to describe an invention but must also be understood to be a document that must have a descriptive capability that enables it to distinguish patent worthy subject matter from prior art. Thus, when the patentability of patent worthy subject matter disclosed by the application is challenged, the application can speak—it is able to defend its patentability. This capability is essential in both pre and post grant forums.

Claiming the Solid Form: Balancing Language and Data for Success

Patent claims define the boundaries of an invention and are meant to state with clarity what the patent protects. Having clearly constructed claims also proves valuable during infringement assertions. These well-known guidelines should be at the forefront of the patent practitioner’s mind when drafting solid-form claims. Patent attorneys practicing in the chemical arts use two primary methods of claiming chemical compounds. The first method relies on chemical nomenclature to describe a claimed chemical compound. Take for example, the drug Wakix® (U.S. Patent No. 7,169,928), in which the active ingredient, pitolisant, is claimed to reference its chemical name without drawing a corresponding structure. The second method claims the drawn chemical structure of a compound. Of course, there are intermediate ways to claim chemical compounds where both names and structure are used to define the scope — especially with genus and sub-genus claims.

IP Goes Pop! Episode 309: Game Changing Inventions Part 1- the 1800s

In this episode of IP Goes Pop!, co-hosts and Volpe Koenig shareholders, Michael Snyder and Joseph Gushue, take you through their first round of pop culture “game-changers.” That is, who were the people, artists or innovators after which the world was never the same? Game changers exist in so many pop culture areas, including movies, music, television and sports. In the world of patents and inventions, game changers from hundreds of years ago still impact our lives every day.

IEEE Approves Pro-Patent Holder Policy Updates

On Friday afternoon, the IEEE Standards Association Board of Governors (IEEE SA BOG) announced they had taken action to update the Patent Policy for IEEE standards development. The updates, which will not go into effect until January 1, 2023, appear at first glance to be minimal, but will likely have an extraordinarily positive impact for patent owners.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, September 30: CAFC Splits on Transfer Ruling; Chief Justice Roberts Stays CAFC Mandate in Gilenya Case; and TTAB Says No Mark Abandonment for Non-Use During Federal Sanctions Period

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Chief Justice Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court signs an order staying the Federal Circuit’s mandate invalidating Novartis’ patent claims covering the MS treatment Gilenya; the U.S. Copyright Office issues a final rule simplifying remitter payment and deposit account requirements; the Federal Circuit denies a petition for mandamus relief to transfer a patent case out of Western Texas over Judge Lourie’s dissent regarding concerns over remote workers; the U.S. House of Representatives passes the SBIR and STTR Extension Act to extend those two seed funding programs through fiscal year 2025; Micron announces a 50 percent reduction in wafer fab equipment capital expenditures to address high chip inventory issues; and Senator Chris Coons announces that he will co-sponsor Senator Thom Tillis’ patent eligibility act.

Patent Filings Roundup: Beer Bong Companies Clash; Crypto Company Sues Coinbase; Campaigns Spiral in Otherwise Quiet Week

District court and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings were both down substantially this week, with 57 and 15, respectively, and 91 district court terminations. The drop-off of patent filings in the Western District of Texas has perhaps not been as pronounced as might be expected, though obviously most of those cases are being assigned to other judges there, or continuations of defendants being added to suits already within the Waco court’s jurisdiction. The Traxcell campaign continued to spiral, with many new defendants added; ditto the Hilco capital-led Bell Semiconductor case, which added an even more diverse list of defendants to the already-long roster. Otherwise most suits this week, with the exception of a few highlighted below, are related to earlier-filed suits.

CAFC Affirms Merck’s Win at PTAB over Mylan Challenge to Diabetes Treatment Claims

In its third precedential patent opinion this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) earlier today upheld a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision finding that Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. failed to show that certain claims of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.’s patent for a Type 2 Diabetes treatment were anticipated or would have been obvious over the cited prior art. Judge Lourie authored the opinion.

Hip-Hop Producer’s SCOTUS Petition Argues Ninth Circuit was Improperly Indifferent to ‘Unique, Paramount Issue’ of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court docketed a petition for certiorari filed on September 17 by hip-hop producer Gary Frisby, who performs under the name G-Money, asking the Court to revive his musical composition copyright case that alleged infringement of Frisby’s 2013 beat track “Shawty So Cold.” Frisby’s appeal challenges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that the appellate court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Frisby’s appeal from U.S. district court because he failed to file a notice of appeal, despite the fact that the court failed to inform Frisby that the ruling on summary judgment was filed.

Patently Strategic Podcast: Means-Plus-Function and the Risk of Losing Your Way

Inventors and practitioners alike are continually trying to push the bounds of protection on innovations. Whether it’s describing a telegraph as a means for communication or a lightbulb as a means for lighting an environment, using broad language, like “means for” language, to cover all the possible workarounds might seem more advantageous than disadvantageous, at first glance. In patent law, this broad language or “means for” phraseology is called functional language because it describes the device or system in terms of what it accomplishes rather than the actual structure. However, using functional language has lost favor over time. For example, a blog published by Patently-O in 2011 shows that the use of “means for” language has dropped precipitously from about 1990 to present day. What has turned this seemingly advantageous practice into a disadvantageous one?In this episode of Patently Strategic, the panel walks through several court cases that either: invalidated a patent for failing to define structures in the specification for the all the means-plus-function claim terms or maintained validity of the patent because the specification provided sufficient structure for all the means-plus-function claim terms.

Hanley, Flight & Zimmerman is Seeking a Patent Attorney

Hanley, Flight & Zimmerman (HFZ), a boutique law firm located in downtown Chicago, is looking for local patent attorneys with 1-5 years of experience to join their patent prosecution team. HFZ represents clients in a wide variety of industries and technologies including the automotive, aerospace, electronics, software, Internet, e-commerce, wireless and cloud technology sectors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, biomedical instrumentation and consumer goods, process technologies, and digital signal processing industries, media and process control technologies, amongst others. This full-time position has a billable hour requirement of 1850 hours with year-end bonus potential. This position is located in Chicago, IL, with an option of hybrid/remote work.

Coons Announces He Will Co-Sponsor Tillis’ Patent Eligibility Restoration Act

On Wednesday night, during a launch event for the Council for Innovation Promotion (C4IP), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) announced that he has come on as a co-sponsor of the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2022. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the first draft of his bill in August, but had no co-sponsors at the time, which caused some to question the chances of the bill passing anytime soon. But tonight, Coons said he is happy to be a co-sponsor and both Coons and Tillis seemed optimistic about the prospects for intellectual property legislation in the next congress—no matter which of them ends up as Chair.

Federal Circuit Clarifies Alice Step Two Analysis in Reversal of District Court’s Rule 12 Dismissal

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), with Chief Judge Moore writing, today reversed and remanded a district court’s dismissal of an amended complaint in a case where the district court found a patent directed to a method of distributing large video files via a peer-to-peer (P2P) network patent ineligible under Section 101. While the CAFC did not rule on whether the claims are patent eligible, it held that “there are plausible factual allegations that the claims include inventive concepts, and that is enough to preclude dismissal” on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.