In this edition of News, Notes & Announcements, happy birthday wishes to IPWatchdog.com for celebrating our 11th year online and a heartfelt thank you to all our readers. Additionally, the TiVo patent used to sue Echostar, the litigation at question in the en banc review at the Federal Circuit, survives reexamination at the USPTO. Professor Thomas Field (UNH) publishes the 21st edition of his IP casebook, which is now online in royalty free version; the USPTO is hosting the National Trademark Expo this Friday and Saturday on campus in Alexandria; the USPTO is hosting the 15th Annual Independent Inventors Conference on November 4-5, 2010, and I will be there teaching two sessions of patent claim drafting; US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visits the USPTO and the AIPLA will host is Annual Meeting next week.
Kappos says quality patent examination is top priority
Yesterday the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced the adoption of new, more comprehensive procedures for measuring the quality of patent examination. The new measurement procedures were crafted by a joint USPTO-Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) Task Force after consultation with the intellectual property community and the public, and according to the Adoption of Quality Metrics document patent blogs were also reviewed for ideas, thus it would seem that the USPTO has left no stone unturned in an effort to find a better way to measure patent examination quality.
Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos announced on Friday, October 1, 2010, that effective immediately the USPTO is reorganizing its operational structure to strengthen the agency’s management, communications and policy functions in accordance with the goals set forth in its 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. This plan, which according to the USPTO website is now available in final form, was completed with input from our public advisory committees, stakeholders, the public, and employees. According to the USPTO website, “The plan is designed to strengthen the capacity of the USPTO, improve the quality of patents and trademarks issued and shorten the time it takes to get a patent. The plan as fully implemented will enhance and accelerate the innovation and job growth needed to transform the U.S. economy, foster competitiveness and drive the creation and growth of U.S. businesses”
In this edition of News, Notes & Announcements, the mother of all patent trolls, Acacia Research Corporation, scores two more licensing agreements, one with IBM the other with US Cellular. Samsung Electronics and Stanford Law School are combining forced to co-sponsor a patent prize for excellent writing about patent law, with real money awarded to the winner and runners-up; $10,000 and $5,000 respectively. AIPLA announced that David Kappos will give the keynote speech at the annual meeting on Thursday, October 21, and Judge Gajarsa will speak on Friday and Chief Judge Rader will participate in a panel on the amicus process. The Wall Street Journal is reporting about new challenges to cookies tracking our every move online, and BIO is the charter sponsor of a new weekly public affairs television program called BioCentury This Week, which premiered yesterday and is available on the web.
Todd Dickinson discussed Three Track at USPTO on 7/20/10
My interview with Q. Todd Dickinson, the current Executive Director of the AIPLA and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the Patent and Trademark Office, took place on August 19, 2010, in a conference room at AIPLA headquarters. In part 1 of the interview we learned about Dickinson’s background and early career that eventually found him Director of the USPTO, the American Inventors Protection Act and his philosophical approach toward allowing patent applications. In part 2 of the interview we discussed average pendency and ways to bring it down, as well as a detailed discussion about patent reform, which Dickinson told me was not dead, and which has turned out to be prophetic indeed. See Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge Action on Patent Reform. In this final installment of the interview we discuss how current USPTO Director David Kappos is doing, whether his honeymoon period will ever end, whether there is any concern he will burn-out, and we discuss the AIPLA position on Three Track, plus the usual fun questions at the end.
Earlier this week USPTO Director David Kappos announced on his blog the USPTO Data Visualization Center and the Patents Dashboard. During my behind the scenes tour of the Patent Office in July 2010, I attended a meeting on the Visualization Center and the Patents Dashboard, and was favorably impressed with what the Patent Office is trying to accomplish. In a word – transparency; that is what the USPTO is attempting to accomplish . Director Kappos takes seriously the Obama Administration mantra and wants to provide the public with access to as much or as little data as desired. The Visualization Center shows graphics that look much like a speedometer, which is where the Patents Dashboard moniker comes from, but the data is also available for those who want to see the numbers and figures used to create the easy to understand graphics. In fact, during my time at the USPTO, Director Kappos continually would say that he wants to allow anyone who is interested to drill down as much as they desire, including to the raw data level if they want.
Washington – On Tuesday, August 10, President Barack Obama signed into law P.L. 111-224 that gives the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) the authority to spend an additional $129 million of the fees the agency will collect in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. Due to an improving economy and increased patent examination productivity, the agency projects it will collect nearly $200 million more than its FY 2010 appropriation of $1.887 billion.
David Kappos told CBS the biggest problem is the backlog and the PTO needs more money. "It's no taxpayer dollars at all-- all the fees we collect come from patent applicants."
Straight from the “it’s about time” department comes breaking word that the so-called popular press are finally identifying the most under reported news story of this recession. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is foundering and it needs more money in order to do its job. That alone ought to be newsworthy, but add the fact that the Patent Office is the one agency of government with the ability to recognize assets out of whole cloth and have industry organically grow as a direct result and without ANY taxpayer dollars. The fact that the Patent Office can without any taxpayer dollars directly influence and creation of new, high paying jobs makes it virtually criminal that the elite press, who has reported on virtually every angle of this recession, has ignored the engine that could get us out of this mess.
On July 19, 2010, I was granted behind the scenes access to observe the United States Patent and Trademark Office. From 11am to 7pm I trailed David Kappos, the Under Secretary for Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. My hosts for the day were primarily Peter Pappas, Chief Communications Officer and Senior Advisor to Kappos, and one of his top lieutenants, Jennifer Rankin Byrne. As I went through the day I met members of the Senior Staff, some of whom I already knew and others who I was meeting for the first time, and sat in on a series of meetings with Director Kappos.
David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce and USPTO Director
On Monday, July 19, 2010, I was granted behind the scenes access to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and was allowed to follow USPTO Director David Kappos throughout the day as he went from meeting to meeting. I have already chronicled much of the events of the day in the previous article– Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of David Kappos. At the end of the day I was granted a 30 minute interview with Director Kappos, which appears below.
In this interview Kappos discusses with me his management style, his famously long hours, how he manages to inspire the Office to work harder than ever before, his efforts to get funding for the Office, how the USPTO can help innovators create new businesses and new jobs, and how to inspire young people to do public service. We also learn that he and Judge Rader share the same favorite movie (see Judge Rader Interview at the end), he likes Star Trek and Star Wars equally (an astute political answer no doubt) and the famous American inventor he would like to meet is a “Mount Rushmore” inventor.
USPTO Director David Kappos in his office on the 10th floor of the Madison Building on July 19, 2010
On July 19, 2010, I was granted a back stage pass of sorts, for a behind-the-scenes look at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I had initially requested an interview with Director David Kappos and was given an affirmative response, but then I floated the idea of a three-part series to commemorate the first anniversary of David Kappos leaving the private sector to take the helm at the USPTO. Kappos was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 7, 2009, and formally sworn in by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on August 13, 2009.
Rather than just do an interview, I suggested something different. I had heard from numerous sources at the Patent Office that David Kappos is an extremely hard worker, coming to work by 7:00am and leaving most nights after 7:00pm. I had also heard over and over about his regular evening and weekend e-mail exchanges with his Senior Staff. It was apparent to me that Kappos is not like most political appointees, and unlike many, if not most, of the previous PTO Directors. So I thought it might be particularly interesting to profile a day in the life of David Kappos, much like the President allows certain journalists to do by giving them access to the White House for a day, with an associated tour and interview. Peter Pappas, the Chief Communications Officer and Senior Advisor to Kappos, liked the idea and agreed to work with me to get it scheduled. It was tentatively scheduled for July 20, 2010, but with the Three Track hearings that day it was moved up to Monday, July 19, 2010.
Yesterday the United States Patent and Trademark Office held a public meeting on the so-called Three Track examination proposal, with everyone in agreement that the proposal is quite welcome, at least in principle. On June 4, 2010, the USPTO published a Notice in the Federal Register setting out the preliminary Three Track proposal and setting Tuesday, July 20, 2010 as a date for the public to come to the Alexandria, Virginia campus to let PTO Officials hear their thoughts. This public meeting proceeds the due date of written comments by a full month, and many of those who spoke explained they would continue to review the proposal and follow up with additional written comments. For more information on the specifics of the proposal please see USPTO Announces New Examination Rules.
One thing can be said definitively: everyone thinks it is a good idea, no one has issues with accelerating applications (Track 1) or allowing them to remain on course as today (Track 2), but there were numerous concerns raised about applicants slowing applications down (Track 3). The good news for the PTO, however, is that speaker after speaker highlighted the same or similar concerns, so it does appear as if there are a finite set of manageable considerations for the PTO to address. In fact, the senior PTO Officials that I spoke with after the public meeting were extremely pleased and quite grateful. I was told by one senior PTO Official that the points raised were all good and that the PTO intends to take them into consideration and address the concerns, along with whatever written feedback they receive. What a refreshing change that will be!